Toyota Racing achieved an emotional runners-up finish in the Le Mans 24 Hours after a rollercoaster race which saw drivers and team overcome immense challenges.
The #8 TS030 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin finished second to the winning Audi, but there was frustration for the #7 sister car of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima, which took fourth place after running in a podium position for much of the event.
The second place equalled Toyota's best finish at Le Mans, as the TS030 HYBRID matched the results achieved by predecessors the TS010 (1992), 94C-V (1994) and TS020 (1999).
“I am very proud of our team today; we truly performed like a team and we earned this result,” team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita noted, “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.
“I will always remember the determination and team work showed by everyone after the #7 was damaged. It was very emotional for me to see this because it showed our team spirit, so I would like to say thank you to the team and also the drivers, who gave everything for us.
“Congratulations to Audi for their victory - it was great to compete with them in such an exciting race 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 eleven safety car periods and made driving extremely difficult for the drivers.
A day of perfect reliability for the #8 car saw it push for victory before eventually completing the 24 hours just a lap behind the winning Audi. The Toyota enjoyed a much smoother run than its sister despite the difficult circumstances, losing time only when its fuel stop window twice came during safety car periods which caused Stéphane Sarrazin to be held at the end of pit lane until he could rejoin.
“It is an amazing result for the team and it's very encouraging for the future,” the French veteran, who shared driving duties with Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, commented, “We pushed really hard since last year and the team put in a huge amount of effort; they gave their maximum all the time.