TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s Le Mans 24 Hours challenge suffered a blow when an accident for the #1 TS040 HYBRID five hours into the race dropped it out of the top six at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Anthony Davidson was at the wheel when he made contact with a lapped car, damaging the front right bodywork. That caused handling problems and, just a few minutes later, a further impact against the wall caused left rear suspension damage.
The pit crew worked quickly to repair the damaged and get Kazuki Nakajima back on track 13 minutes later, although the #1 was now in ninth place, five laps behind the leader.
Prior to that, Anthony had set his car’s fastest lap times of the entire week, while Stéphane Sarrazin, in the #2 he shares with Alex Wurz and Mike Conway, was also increasing the pace.
That car moved up to seventh as a result of the #1 incident, one lap behind the leader. In a strategic decision to reduce time spent in the pits, Stéphane completed four stints on the same tyres and, as the race entered its eighth hour, Mike took over the wheel.
TS040 HYBRID #1 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Anthony Davidson: “I have to put my hands up; it was my fault. I touched a Ferrari going through the Porsche Curves trying to carry momentum. It was bodywork to bodywork, corner to corner. A slight misjudgment in the timing meant that it peeled off my right front bodywork which ruined the balance of the car. I should have pitted really but I carried on pushing to save the time so I could at least run until the end of the stint. It just understeered on me in turn six. I touched the grass and sideswiped the barrier which bent something on the left rear suspension. I am annoyed with myself. Thanks to the crew for repairing the car quickly and getting us back into the race.”
TS040 HYBRID #2 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
Stéphane Sarrazin: “It was a long stint for me because I did four stints on the tyres and we had a long safety car period. We know our performance level so we are trying not to take any unnecessary risks. We are getting into a good rhythm, continuing to do our race and follow our strategy. It’s a very long race and many things will happen so let’s see what the next hours bring us.”