It could have been the break of a common situation for Toyota at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where a sure lead ends with some kind of problem. It happened in 1999 and also in 2014, but what everyone saw happening this year will be clear in their memories for a long time, as the Japanese manufacturer was denied of Le Mans glory in the last lap.
Both Toyota Gazoo Racing cars weren’t expected to start third and fourth like they did this year, even though the scenario shown in the current FIA World Endurance Championship season wouldn’t point any winner or any dominant team.
The wet start of the race gave a nice ambient for both TS050s to put a fight against the pair of Porsche 919 Hybrids, and with the No. 1 car having to visit the garage due to problems, it was down to the No. 2 Porsche to challenge the Toyotas. Eventually, the race began to turn into a lead relay when the top one had the need of a pit stop. It started with the No. 6 Toyota and the No. 2 Porsche, but then the No. 5 Toyota took the lead, with the No. 6 getting second place before the dawn.
Things were in route for a Toyota 1-2 and then the Japanese manufacturer suffered the first hit as the No. 6 spun and went to the gravel, being brought to garage later on, leaving to the No. 5 the task of keeping a good lead gap to the No. 2 Porsche. But then, with 6 minutes and a half to go, Kazuki Nakajima reported loss of power on the radio while the speed of the TS050 was slowly reducing.
The car limped its way until a bit after the finish line until the car stopped in front of the crowd, celebrities, team members and media people at the main stratight. A few seconds later, came the No. 2 Porsche to eventually continue the last lap and claim the 18th win of the German brand at Le Mans, followed by the No. 6 Toyota and the No. 7 Audi.
The No. 5 Toyota restarted and was able to complete the final lap, but the ACO concluded that the lap was too slow and disqualified the Toyota. This week Toyota brought to light what caused the shocking stop, and it was revealed to be a failure in a connector between the turbocharger and the intercooler. Further investigation of the failure, including production of the part, is still underway.
To Toyota, now it’s time to shift focus to the rest of the 2015 season while preparing the attack to Le Mans next year.
PHOTO: Toyota Gazoo Racing