TOYOTA Racing achieved an emotional runners-up finish in the 90th anniversary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours after a rollercoaster race which saw drivers and team overcome immense challenges in this third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The #8 TS030 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin finished second while the #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima completed a satisfying week for the team by taking fourth. That second place equals TOYOTA’s best finish at Le Mans as the TS030 HYBRID matched the results of the TS010 (1992), 94C-V (1994) and TS020 (1999).
According to Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “ I am very proud of our team today since we never gave up or lost focus, even in difficult circumstances. To get both cars to the finish and to stand on the podium was a very satisfying result. So I would like to say thank you to the team and also the drivers, who gave everything for us. I am happy with this result but my dream is to win Le Mans so I am determined we will come back even stronger next year.”
A chaotic race featured regularly-changing weather causing treacherous track conditions which contributed to 11 safety car periods and made driving extremely difficult for the drivers. The #7 HYBRID car overcame a turbulent 24 hours which saw it face several challenges, including a loss of fuel pressure early in the race, a slow in-lap to conserve fuel and two precautionary tyre changes when sensors indicated slow punctures. A day of perfect reliability for the HYBRID #8 car saw it push for victory before eventually completing the 24 hours.
TOYOTA first competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 1983, marking the start of a long period of participation in endurance racing which included several editions of the Le Mans 24 Hours. TOYOTA cars have raced in 14 Le Mans 24 Hours races, with a total of 38 vehicles taking part. For 2012, TOYOTA returned to endurance racing as a full-time entrant with a hybrid LMP1 car making history by becoming the first manufacturer to build a team entirely around a hybrid powertrain. The TS030 HYBRID had a successful first season winning three of the six races it entered.
Off the race track, Toyota Motor Corporation has been a true pioneer in the hybrid car category starting in 1992 and then moving onto mass production of hybrid vehicles in 1997. Toyota has continued to reap the benefits of its innovative technology and hybrid car expertise with cumulative global sales of its hybrid vehicles topping the 5 million unit mark as of March 31, 2013. Toyota Motor Corporation will launch a total of 18 new hybrid vehicles worldwide by 2015 and is committed to augmenting its product lineup even further and increasing the number of countries and regions where it sells hybrid vehicles to meet the needs of customers and offer them the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles available across the globe.