Köln, Germany,

Le Mans 24 Hours: 6 Hours Update


TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in the Hypercar Hunt

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is part of a thrilling battle at the front of the field in the centenary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours after a dramatic opening quarter of the race.

The GR010 HYBRIDs took the fight to the 14 other Hypercars, racing closely with competitors from Cadillac, Ferrari, Peugeot and Porsche in an exciting battle which ebbed and flowed throughout an incident-packed opening six hours. 

The #8 GR010 HYBRID of last year’s winners Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa led in the early stages and remained firmly in the fight at the front from sixth with three quarters of the race still to run.

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 GR010 HYBRID, were just a few seconds behind in seventh as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing kept up a strong challenge for its sixth consecutive Le Mans win. 

The race began at 4pm local time in front of a sell-out 300,000 crowd. Sébastien started third and Mike took the green flag from fifth. On soft tyres due to rain midway around the 13.626km track, Sébastien passed the Ferraris to lead on lap one and Mike took third before a safety car period. 

When racing resumed after 40 minutes, Mike was immediately on the attack. He overtook the #50 Ferrari for second while Sébastien established a small advantage at the front. As his softer tyres degraded, Mike came under pressure from behind and, despite a spirited defence, he was fourth when he pitted for new rubber after an hour of racing. Sébastien followed from the lead a lap later.

An exciting Hypercar battle saw the top 10 swap positions regularly throughout the opening hours due to different tyre and fuel strategies, as well as spectacular wheel-to-wheel racing. 

After almost three hours, rain added to that excitement, triggering several incidents and a safety car. The GR010 HYBRIDs pitted for wet tyres and a driver change, but after almost 90 minutes behind the safety car, the track dried so José and Brendon returned to the pits for slicks.

The race simultaneously went green so the GR010 HYBRIDs had to wait for all cars to pass before leaving the pit lane, costing valuable time and dropping them to the bottom of the top 10.

As different strategies played out, and slow zones or yellow flags affected the relative positions, Brendon guided the #8 back into the top six, with José close behind heading into the seventh hour. 

Mike Conway (Driver, car #7): “We had a different tyre strategy at the beginning because we wanted to be on the safe side considering it was quite wet at some points on the Mulsanne Straight. It worked out and we could pass a few cars in the first racing laps but then it became harder. Everyone was using the slipstream and if you could not create a gap, then it was really tough to stay ahead. I tried my best to defend but I lost a couple of places. It was really difficult to drive on slick tyres in the big rain at the end of my stint, so we had to change to wets. We have stayed out of trouble, and we are in the fight, so it has been a good start.”

Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car #8): “I have never seen so many incidents at the start of Le Mans before. Our first priority was to stay on track and out of trouble, because you don’t win the race in the first hour. It was important to keep it clean and not make any mistakes. The car felt pretty good, and I think my pace was strong compared to the competition but it’s hard to see the full picture from behind the wheel. We just need to stay focused, have a clean race and then we will see on Sunday where we are.”

Le Mans 24 Hours - After 6 Hours 

1st#51 Ferrari AF Corse (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi)75 laps
2nd#75 Porsche Penske (Nasr/Jaminet/Tandy/Campbell)+6.321secs
3rd#50 Ferrari AF Corse (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen)+9.721secs
4th#94 Peugeot TotalEnergies (Duval/Menezes/Müller)+20.301secs
5th#2 Cadillac (Bamber/Lynn/Westbrook)+52.632secs
6th#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+1min 23.532secs
7th#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+1min 25.352sec

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