TOYOTA GAZOO Racing: Le Mans 24 hours update 1
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is in an exciting fight at the front of the 84th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours after the opening four hours of action at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The race began under safety car due to heavy rain. With standing water on the track and extremely poor visibility, the cars spent almost an hour running at reduced speeds before it was safe to start racing.
Mike Conway started in the #6 TS050 HYBRID he shares with Stéphane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi, from third. Sébastien Buemi was at the wheel of the fourth-placed #5 he drives alongside Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.
When the green flags waved, the track was drying rapidly and this created action-packed racing for the TS050 HYBRIDs, which were on wet Michelin tyres.
Mike charged through the cars in front on the first racing laps and led at lap 10, with Sébastien dropping to sixth due to a brief drop in power which is under investigation. But he recovered and began to close on the podium fight.
Within three laps, all LMP1 hybrids pitted for slicks and Mike emerged in 4th, one place ahead of Sébastien. Mike took third when the #7 Audi pitted for repairs and at the next fuel-only pit stop, moved ahead of the #8 thanks to fast laps late in his stint.
Mike was pushing for the lead and set new overall fastest lap times as he kept the pressure on the leading #1 Porsche, while Sébastien was fourth but closing on the top three before both cars stopped for new tyres and a driver change after 54 laps.
Kamui and Anthony took over their respective cars on a warm, dry evening. The #6 rejoined in second however, the #5 was forced to make another pit stop just one lap later due to vibrations on the tyres, dropping it to fifth after four hours.
TS050 HYBRID #5 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Sébastien Buemi: “I was missing some power right at the start which cost me time and positions. It got better but then the balance of the car didn’t feel perfect. I just did my stint, doing the best I could. There’s a long way to go so we will see how the race develops.”
TS050 HYBRID #6 (Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi)
Mike Conway: “It was a good stint for me in tricky conditions. I was just biding my time and taking my chance when I could, with no risks. The track dried very fast when it stopped raining. We are in the fight and we are really close on lap time so it’s good. We just need to keep it up; it’s a long race.”