2015 24 Hours of Le Mans Endurance Race
Expectations for the overall champion is on the Toyota fleet. They allowed their rivals to precede them and they started with 7th and 8th place. However, they showed confidence and emerged from behind to win at the finals.
Two Toyota TS040 Hybrid units struggled in the qualifying round held on June 10 and 11 (local time), while the speed of the Porsche stood out. On the second day, A. Wurz/S. Sarrazin/M. Conway’s #2 vehicle is in 7th place with 3 minutes and 23.543 seconds, and A. Davidson/S. Buemi/ Kazuki Nakajima’s #1 vehicle is in 8th place with 3 minutes and 23.757 seconds. They established a lead of more than 6 seconds from the #18 vehicle Porsche, which won the pole position.
I believe many people are worried about the result of this qualifying round and wonder if Toyota would do well this year. Their camp has already worked on their preparations and prepared the highest performance they can demonstrate within the 24 hours of the finals, from the first qualifying lap time. Kazuki who won the pole position last year got 3 minutes and 21.789 seconds. Despite the improvement in performance particularly in this season, this year’s time is slower.
After the qualifying round, the driver’s comments were publicized. A. Davidson said, “I think that I could have had a closer time if I really focused on the qualifying round.” S. Buemi stated, “I did not aim for the time attack in the qualifying round.” Lastly, “We were proceeding as planned through the qualifying session,” said A. Wurz. Team Representative Toshio Sato said, “I believe that the gap between rivals in the qualifying round is not that big. I believe it will be an exciting race.” The qualifying round result is not something to be worried about.
More than half of the course in Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans is a highway.
The opportunity to test the actual vehicle here is very limited. Eight hours of free driving was held at the official test which ended in May, and a 4-hour test before the qualifying round was done this week. However, it is enough to be assured of a powerful run for 24 hours. In particular, it was only on the second day of the qualifying round that they drove with a dry condition this year.
Confirming tire characteristics and changing the settings of the vehicle for the finals would definitely give them a great advantage.
Nevertheless, it’s certain that it will be a difficult race against their opponents, the veterans Porsche and Audi. Kazuki Nakajima who drives the #1 vehicle said, regarding the finals, “The team is united, and the results will follow if we continue to progress without experiencing troubles and making mistakes.”Last year, trouble occurred during their first place running at the Circuit de la Sarthe at midnight, which instantly caused them to retire from the race. While everyone knows the finals gets really frustrating, he knows the difficulty in running in a long distance race more than anyone else. His presence has become truly significant in the team.
He crashed at the Spa-Francorchamps in the end of April and damaged a part of his spine. Kazuki is said to be desperate to win the Le Mans race, so it is possible that he can recover and participate in the race. He will definitely become a great asset to the whole team.
Will he be able to have his revenge from last year? The finals will start at 22:00 on June 13 (JST). Toyota is expected to catch up.
(Translated by Natassia Jeronne D. Martinez)