#8 Toyota

WEC News: Qualifying frustration for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing experienced a painful qualifying at the Circuit de la Sarthe and will now take on an even greater challenge in the 92nd Le Mans 24 Hours, round four of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The reigning World Champions will start outside the top eight after missing out on the Hyperpole shoot-out in extremely frustrating circumstances during a turbulent qualifying. Nevertheless, everyone in the team is defiant and ready to respond strongly with a competitive race performance at the weekend.

The #8 GR010 HYBRID of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa suffered with traffic throughout and Brendon was one of many leading Hypercar competitors who were unable to show their true performance. The #8 will start from 11th on the grid.

Kamui Kobayashi set the fourth fastest qualifying lap in the #7 GR010 HYBRID he shares with José María López and Nyck de Vries but had all lap times deleted for causing a red flag at the end of the session and will start from 23rd, at the rear of the Hypercar field.

Either side of qualifying, two free practice sessions allowed the team to make constructive progress on its preparations for the race, when the true hierarchy at the front of the 23-car Hypercar field will finally become clear.

Since the test day on Sunday, the team had worked intensively to rebuild and fine-tune the GR010 HYBRIDs while on Tuesday both pit crews took part in the traditional Pit Stop Challenge. They completed tire changes in less than 10secs and narrowly missed defending the title won last year by the #7 crew.

Practice began in cloudy, mild conditions on Wednesday afternoon with a three-hour session, which was interrupted by two short red flags. Both cars used the session to optimize race set-ups and hone one-lap speed for qualifying. Brendon was fastest in the #8 GR010 HYBRID, with Nyck’s earning fifth in the #7.

With 62 cars on track, including slower LMP2 and LMGT3 competitors, traffic was always likely to be a major factor in qualifying. Kamui and Brendon delayed their first flying laps, on soft tires, and Kamui benefited from a clean track to briefly hold provisional pole.

As tires reached optimum temperatures, lap times improved throughout the field and, after all Hypercars had completed their first flying laps within the first 20 minutes, Kamui sat third with Brendon out of the Hyperpole positions.

A stint on medium tires followed, but Brendon again encountered traffic on his flying laps while Kamui did not improve. That meant Kamui was third and Brendon 12th when they began their final attempts, on medium tires, inside the last 20 minutes.

Traffic continued to thwart Brendon, who also spun early in his stint and could not improve. Qualifying ended prematurely when Kamui spun through the gravel at Karting. The #7 was undamaged but was stripped of all its lap times for causing the red flag. Brendon was 11th in the #8 and missed Hyperpole by just 0.301secs.

The first night session of the event, second practice, brought down the curtain on the day’s action. The #7 required minor repairs as well as the removal of gravel following its qualifying incident and eventually hit the track around 25 minutes into the session. A clean session, in which lap times were markedly slower than earlier in the day, saw Sébastien set the pace in the #8 while Nyck’s best lap put the #7 in ninth.

Race preparations continue on Thursday with four hours of practice prior to the race, which will begin on Saturday at 4pm local time.

Le Mans 24 Hours – Qualifying

 

1st #15 BMW M Team WRT (Vanthoor/Marciello/Wittmann) 3m 24.465secs 8 laps
2nd​ #3 Cadillac Racing (Bourdais/van der Zande/Dixon) +0.177secs​​ 8 laps
3rd​ #50 Ferrari AF Corse (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen) +0.266secs 8 laps
4th​ #35 Alpine Endurance Team (Chatin/Habsburg/Milesi)  +0.407secs 15 laps
5th​ ​#2 Cadillac Racing (Bamber/Lynn/Palou)  +0.528secs  13 laps
6th​ #51 Ferrari AF Corse (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi)  +0.584secs 11 laps
11th ​​#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  +0.981secs 12 laps
61st  ​#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing No time  12 laps

 

 

Le Mans 24 Hours – Free Practice 1

 

1st ​​#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 3m 26.013secs 36 laps
2nd​ #12 Hertz Team JOTA (Stevens/Nato/Ilott) +0.597secs​​  40 laps
3rd​ #15 BMW M Team WRT (Vanthoor/Marciello/Wittmann) +0.658secs  37 laps
4th​ #99 Proton Competition (Jani/Tinknell/Andlauer) +0.878secs 32 laps
5th​ ​#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +0.905secs 40 laps
6th​ ​#2 Cadillac Racing (Bamber/Lynn/Palou)  +0.915secs 31 laps

 

 

Le Mans 24 Hours – Free Practice 2

 

1st ​​#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  3m27.474secs  32 laps
2nd​ #83 AF Corse (Kubica/Shwartzman/Ye) +0.524secs​​  33 laps
3rd​ #6 Porsche Penske (Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor) +0.591secs  32 laps
4th​ #12 Hertz Team JOTA (Stevens/Nato/Ilott)  +0.878secs  31 laps
5th​ #36 Alpine Endurance Team (Lapierre/Schumacher/Vaxiviere) +0.984secs  31 laps
6th​ #3 Cadillac Racing (Bourdais/van der Zande/Dixon)  +1.011secs  29 laps
9th #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  +1.632secs  24 laps

 

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