Winning Toyota drivers expected to be third at Spa

The drivers of the winning #7 Toyota in Saturday's Spa round of the FIA World Endurance Championship have admitted they went into the weekend expecting to be third due to their success handicap.

Winning Toyota drivers expected to be third at Spa

Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi scored their third win of the 2019/20 campaign as the WEC returned to action in mixed conditions in Belgium, leading a one-two for Toyota ahead of their stablemates in the #8 TS050 Hybrid.

The #7 car was carrying the most severe success handicap heading to the weekend of 3.52 seconds a lap as a result of its advantage in the championship, compared to 3.08s a lap for the sister #8 car and 1.58s for the solo Rebellion R-13.

Read the race report:

But a combination of the weather, which effectively removed the pole-sitting Rebellion from contention, good tyre calls and intermittent electrical problems for the #8 car all combined to give Conway, Lopez and Kobayashi a fairly comfortable win.

Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima eventually brought home the #8 car 34 seconds down at the finish, although the #7 car's lead had been as big as a minute before the third safety car period of the race in the third hour.

"To get the win was quite unexpected with the penalties we have, I have to say," said Conway. "We thought we would finish third this weekend, maybe second if things were mixed up.

"At the beginning Seb [Buemi] was pretty quick, it was hard to keep up, but then they had some issues on their car so we caught the gap up.

"After that it was the right call to go on slicks when we did and we extended a big gap. But it kept changing throughout the race with the safety cars.

"Very challenging all the time, car 8 was very quick in sectors one and three with their extra boost. But we managed to pull it together, got the car well-dialled in, the engineers changed some things overnight and it really worked out well for us today."

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Having come to Spa with a five-point advantage over their stablemates in the #8 Toyota, Conway, Lopez and Kobayashi now head to next month's double-points Le Mans 24 Hours with 12 points in hand over Buemi, Nakajima and Hartley.

Lopez also admitted that in a dry race it would have been difficult to trouble Rebellion, which had topped every session leading up to the race.

"We arrived here with the penalty and in the best conditions we could achieve third place or maybe second," said Lopez. "But, unlike the other years, today everything went in our favour.

"Firstly, without the rain we couldn’t have beaten Rebellion, they were quicker in dry conditions. I think that gave us the possibility to fight as a team.

"And then all the calls we did on the tyres, they were at the right time. We didn't know what was going to happen with the weather, but everything went in our favour today."

Kobayashi added: "This week our team and my teammates did a great job, we didn't do any mistakes. We did a perfect job. 

"This is just before Le Mans, so for us it's very important to put [everything] together especially after the long break [since the previous WEC race at Austin in February]."

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

shares
comments

Related video

Spa WEC: Toyota takes one-two in rain-affected race
Previous article

Spa WEC: Toyota takes one-two in rain-affected race

Next article

Laurent sorry for "unforgivable" mistake after Spa crash

Laurent sorry for "unforgivable" mistake after Spa crash
Load comments
How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa Prime

How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa

After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race

WEC
May 9, 2022
How Toyota's WEC dominance was curbed at stormy Sebring Prime

How Toyota's WEC dominance was curbed at stormy Sebring

Toyota’s stranglehold on the FIA World Endurance Championship ended at the 2022 opener at Sebring, but all accusing eyes were on the Balance of Performance system as the key to the shake-up. Here's how it unfolded, to see Alpine celebrating under a stormy sky having blown away the defending champions...

WEC
Mar 21, 2022
Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year Prime

Why Penske remains ambitious for its WEC learning year

Team Penske is gearing up for its role in running Porsche’s LMDh programme from 2023 by entering this year's World Endurance Championship with an LMP2 car. Although the team is considering 2022 as a season to learn, it is no less serious about winning than ever - which should make the already fiercely competitive class even more so

WEC
Mar 17, 2022
Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022 Prime

Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022

Ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of its new 9X8 Hypercar, Peugeot revealed that it would not be entering this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with its incoming machinery. Although development restrictions for homologated cars are partially responsible, the French marque can draw on its own lessons from its history in sportscars

WEC
Feb 28, 2022
Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC Prime

Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC

OPINION: The adoption by IMSA of the GTP name for its forthcoming LMDh versus Le Mans Hypercar era in 2023 appeals to fans of nostalgia - but it undermines the commonality achieved by bringing its rulebook into line with the WEC. GTP or Hypercar, both sides should settle on a single name

WEC
Feb 15, 2022
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
Why F1-snubbed Davidson has no regrets in retirement Prime

Why F1-snubbed Davidson has no regrets in retirement

He may not have won the Le Mans 24 Hours - falling agonisingly short in 2016 - and didn't get the opportunities in Formula 1 his talents merited. But after calling time on his professional career last month, Anthony Davidson says his pride in his performances with Peugeot and Toyota in LMP1 mean more than the results he achieved

WEC
Dec 17, 2021
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Prime

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive FIA World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Motorsport.com recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021