The 2016 World Endurance Championship started at Silverstone this month, with Toyota Gazoo Racing clinching a podium spot in second place, and driver Mike Conway taking home the Richard Lloyd Trophy as the race’s highest place British Racing Drivers Club member.
Although the No6 Toyota crossed the line in third, after starting in 5th place on the grid, second place was subsequently awarded, with the winning No7 Audi disqualified as a result of a technical infringement. No2 Porsche instead took the title, with No6 Toyota winning silver.
The team of Conway, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi started the season in style, taking on the track in their new Toyota TS050 Hybrid race car for the first time.
Conway said: ‘This was not an easy race and our second place was hard fought. Our speed on a single lap was quite strong, but we still need to work on the pace over a full driver stint to get closer to our competition. We know the areas we have to focus on, but this we scored solid points and in all it was a pretty good way to finish the weekend.’
Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima had also been on course for a strong result in the No5 Toyota, which started on the grid in 6th, reaching a high point of third, but a viciously timed right rear puncture took them to 29th place and 24 laps down on the leader. The puncture occurred just after pit entry, meaning a full, slow-speed lap ensued, causing major vehicle damage in the process. After 41 minutes of repairs, the crew got the car and Buemi back on track, managing to finish respectably in 16th place.
The TS050’s solid debut suggest that the season will be an exciting one, with its 2.4-litre turbocharged engine and 8MJ hybrid system being pushed to the max. In dry, sunny conditions at Silverstone, the Toyota posted a lap just 0.354 shy of the overall quickest, so what will the rest of the WEC hold? With a strong finish for No6 and an inspiring comeback from No5, we’re sure to be in for a Toyota treat.
Watch them in action at the next race at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 7th May.
Toyota’s Hybrid road technology is just as advanced as it is for the racetrack – discover great deals on the pioneering line-up here.