Toyota impressed by Yamashita’s first Le Mans performance

Toyota LMP1 team director Rob Leupen has praised Kenta Yamashita for a “really good job” on the Japanese driver’s first appearance in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Toyota impressed by Yamashita’s first Le Mans performance

SUPER GT champion and Super Formula race winner Yamashita was placed with the High Class Racing LMP2 team for the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season, sharing the Danish squad’s Oreca 07 with Anders Fjordbach and Mark Patterson.

Despite his lack of experience of the Circuit de la Sarthe and no pre-event test day to help himself familiarise with the track, Yamashita managed to secure High Class a spot in the six-car Hyperpole shootout in Thursday’s first qualifying session.

Read Also:

Finally qualifying fourth, Yamashita was running as high as second in class in the opening stages of the race before handing over to gentleman driver Patterson, but the team’s hopes of a strong finish were ruined by gearbox problems that started in the fifth hour.

“We saw Kenta was doing a really good job,” Leupen told Motorsport.com. “We will now look at how he can keep developing for the future.

“We also have Nyck [de Vries], who will test the new car and be involved. We want them to grow. It’s good to have young drivers to keep our current drivers on top of their game.”

It’s understood that Toyota will go into the 2021 WEC season with an unchanged driver line-up, but Yamashita could be well-placed to join the Cologne-based outfit in 2022.

“Maybe he can be a successor to Kazuki [Nakajima] at some point,” added Leupen.

#33 High Class Racing - ORECA 07 - GIBSON: Kenta Yamashita, Mark Patterson, Anders Fjordbach

#33 High Class Racing - ORECA 07 - GIBSON: Kenta Yamashita, Mark Patterson, Anders Fjordbach

Photo by: Paul Foster

For his part, Yamashita said his qualifying performance was more than he had hoped for based on High Class’s form during the WEC season, and felt that a top-five finish could have been on the cards if the team had put together a clean run.

“The car already felt quite nice on Thursday compare to previous race, and the track was not so difficult for me, so I was able to set a good time from the first lap,” he told Motorsport.com. “I was happy to make it into Hyperpole, my lap was good.

“To be honest, this result was better than I expected because we struggled with the car performance for the whole WEC season. Our car had good performance in race also; looks like tyre degradation was lower than some of the other teams.

“I think we were able to finish top five or six if we finished without issues, so I’m little disappointed. But I know Le Mans is tough race, so it couldn't be helped.

“I’m happy with my performance this weekend and I’ll keep pushing hard for the future.”

shares
comments
Why running Le Mans without the fanfare was crucial
Previous article

Why running Le Mans without the fanfare was crucial

Next article

Why COVID-19 didn't stop Peugeot's Le Mans commitment

Why COVID-19 didn't stop Peugeot's Le Mans commitment
Load comments
Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing Prime

Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing

Few disciplines of motorsport offer better possibilities to build a colossus of the track than sportscars. For Autosport's recent Monsters of Motorsport special issue, we picked out some of the finest (and not so fine) that have graced sportscar classics including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring

Le Mans
Feb 4, 2022
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans Prime

The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans

Kevin Magnussen will make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this weekend alongside father Jan in LMP2. But the Danes won't be the only ex-F1 drivers to appear in the hotly contested category this year.

Le Mans
Aug 20, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Prime

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021