Published on September 5th, 2016 | by Subhash Nair0
Podium Return for Toyota GAZOO Racing
Toyota GAZOO Racing returned to the podium in an exciting 6 Hours of Mexico, the fifth round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the #6 TS050 Hybrid overcame a difficult start to the event, which saw them miss Thursday practice due to an accident, to finish third. That result elevates them to second in the drivers’ World Championship.
Only one TS050 Hybrid finished the race, with the #5 car of Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima forced to retire due to an electrical issue on the powertrain when challenging for a podium finish.
At just 4.304km, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues is the shortest on the WEC calendar and this forced the LMP1 cars to regularly fight their way through lapped traffic, creating an action-packed race with occasional contact.
After 90 minutes one such incident saw Mike, at the wheel of the #6, clash with an LMP2 car, earning him a drive through penalty which cost 20 seconds. The car was, however, not damaged.
More misfortune struck Toyota just a few minutes later when an electrical issue on the powertrain forced Kazuki in car #5 to pit for repairs. Unfortunately, the problem could not be repaired quickly and the car retired.
Soon after half distance, an exciting race took another twist when rain struck. Stéphane, running fourth at that stage, immediately brought the #6 TS050 Hybrid in for wet tyres to cope with the increasingly slippery track.
Position changes were frequent and the #6 ran third until the #7 Audi, on hybrid intermediate tyres, got past. But Stéphane put in a brilliant performance to twice pass the #2 Porsche for third either side of a tyre change for slicks.
Soon the #6 moved ahead of the #7 Audi for second place prior to its final pit stop, when hybrid intermediate tyres were fitted in anticipation of rain during the final laps.
Stéphane stayed behind the wheel and safely brought the car home in third place for the #6 crew’s third podium of the season, just 8.267 seconds behind the second-placed Audi #7 and on the same lap as the race-winning #1 Porsche.
Toyota GAZOO Racing is back in action in just two weeks, when the WEC field travels north to Austin for the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas on Saturday 17 September, the sixth of nine races this season.