Motorsports world endurance championship 2021 winners Toyota Gazoo Racing celebrating victor

Published on August 23rd, 2021 | by Subhash Nair

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Toyota Takes 4th 24 Hours Le Mans Win, First Hypercar Win

Le Mans sees its first winner in the new Hypercar category, Toyota.

The Toyota GAZOO RACING team has won its fourth consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours victory, and has made history by becoming the first winners of the new Hypercar category with their new car.

le mans world endurance championship 2021 winners Toyota Gazoo Racing winning drivers

It was Mike Convey, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 GR010 HYBRID that crossed the line in first place. The car started in pole position and completed 371 laps by the end.

BHPetrol_Euro5 Diesel_2021

Here’s the race report with more details:

PRESS RELEASE

On the new GR010 HYBRID’s Le Mans debut, last year’s winners Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley completed a perfect result for the team, which has now won all four races of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) so far. 

world endurance championship 2021 winners Toyota Gazoo Racing

An incident-packed 24 hours began on a wet track and saw Sébastien drop to the back of the field on the first racing lap, when the #8 was hit by the #708 Glickenhaus. 

Mike led the field from pole in the #7 and, despite two punctures, set the pace at the front as Sébastien brought the #8 car into contention despite further misfortunes. It suffered a damaged wheel rim following contact with a lapped car and a puncture of its own.

Rain in the sixth hour caused several incidents, including a 20-minute safety car, but José kept the #7 in front and Brendon maintained the pressure from second. 

The race ebbed and flowed between the two cars, with slow zones and safety cars contributing to a fluctuating gap, with the GR010 HYBRIDs holding a clear lead over the chasing pack, led by the #36 Alpine, which was off the lead lap.

As the race entered its final 12 hours, Kamui had stretched the #7 car’s lead to just over half a minute, with Brendon chasing in the sister car. When Kazuki took the wheel of the #8 after 14 hours, the team swapped the front end to rectify a drop in aerodynamic performance caused by minor damage.

Nerves were stretched in the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing garage as the final quarter of the race approached. An issue on the fuel system of the #8 car prevented it completing full stints. Over consecutive fuel stops, it returned to the pits earlier each time as the team worked intensively to find a solution.

world endurance championship 2021 winners Toyota Gazoo Racing pit stop

With four laps in hand over the third-placed Alpine, and no prospect of a quick repair, a remarkable team effort tested several options until an effective counter-measure was developed. The drivers had to activate a specific setting at defined points around the track to return the #8 car to normal stint lengths.

That proved even more crucial when the #7 developed a similar issue. Kamui and then José could quickly manage the situation and maintain a comfortable lead. Close communication between drivers and race engineers on both cars ensured the issue was kept under control.

Kamui and Kazuki took over their respective cars for the final stint and crossed the line together to make Hypercar history at Le Mans.


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