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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Toyota says it had pace for 2024 Le Mans win without various issues

Toyota believes it had the pace to win last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours round of the World Endurance Championship without numerous car issues and a late Ferrari collision.

The Japanese manufacturer’s two driver crews pointed to multiple incidents and issues as the reason they failed to reverse last year’s defeat to Ferrari in the French enduro.

Jose Maria Lopez, who crossed the line in the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercar he shared with Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries, 14s behind the winning Ferrari, explained that two punctures and two engine issues proved crucial in its defeat.

“I don’t like ifs and buts, but we had the pace to win,” he told Motorsport.com.

“Kamui had an engine problem and then I had one in the last stint, and then we had the two punctures [which resulted in unscheduled stops].”

Lopez described the Le Mans race in which he returned to the Hypercar class in place of the injured Mike Conway as “the hardest one I have ever experienced”.

“It wasn’t the smoothest race for us, for sure,” he added.

He insisted that the his spin at the Dunlop Chicane with an hour to go as he attempted to close down Nicklas Nielsen in the winning Ferrari 499P did not decide the race.

The time loss was approximately the same amount as he lost out at the end, but he believes that he wouldn’t have caught Nielsen because “the Ferrari was cruising at the end”.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, who took fifth in the sister #8 Toyota, believed that the defining moment for them came after the rain resumed and the car was nudged into a spin at Mulsanne Corner by Alessandro Pier Guidi in the second of the factory Ferraris with two hours to go.

“I guess without that spin after that little touch, we would have won the race,” he told Motorsport.com.

“That was one that got away.

“We lost something like 40s and we were some way ahead of #7 at the time.”

Buemi also suggested that a slow zone, a 80km/h temporary speed limit under yellow flag conditions, in the closing hours was also pivotal in the outcome of the race.

Hartley added that the spin “basically put us out of the fight for the win in the last couple of hours”.

“It feels like the victory just slipped away from us,” he said.

Kobayashi ran into engine problems on Sunday morning, which Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director David Floury explained was caused by a sensor issue that the team managed to resolve.

The second problem with the powertrain came in the final hour as Lopez tried to catch the Ferrari was caused by a communication error, the team said.

One of the settings was in the wrong position, which meant Lopez had to be talked down to correct it as he was chasing Nielsen.

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