Toyota bullish on WEC title chances despite Nurburgring defeat

Toyota remains bullish it can fight for this year's FIA World Endurance Championship title, despite trailing LMP1 rival Porsche by 30 points after last weekend's Nurburgring 6 Hours.

Toyota bullish on WEC title chances despite Nurburgring defeat
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
Sébastien Buemi, Toyota Gazon Racing
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima

Toyota’s #7 TS050 Hybrid took a surprise pole position for the first WEC round since last month’s Le Mans 24 Hours, the first race in which both manufacturers competed with their high-downforce aerokits.

From pole, Kamui Kobayashi made a good start, but in the second hour Jose Maria Lopez had to allow both Porsche 919 Hybrids through.

The #2 car of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber took a second consecutive win after late team orders allowed Bernhard past Andre Lotterer’s leading #1 car.

Having sustained aero damage in the race, #7 Toyota crossed the line in third over a minute behind the Porsche pair, while the #8 car finished five laps down due to a fuel pump issue on the formation lap.

After scoring back-to-back wins at Le Mans and the Nurburgring, the #2 Porsche trio now enjoy a 30-point lead over the #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, which collected 12 points with fourth place.

Despite the recent run of results, Toyota’s team director Rob Leupen is upbeat about his team's chances in the remaining five rounds.

“We’re going to try [winning the championship],” Leupen told Motorsport.com. "The fact that we performed better than expected at our hardest race means we'll definitely be in the hunt in Mexico and Austin.” 

"If we can get the #7 car in between the #8 and Porsche and score a 1-2 as we did in Spa, then it’s looking good. We are going to attack the next five races to score victories.”

“Performance better than expected"

Leupen added Toyota has taken heart from its performance at the Nurburgring, which has historically favoured Porsche and been an unfavourable venue for the TS050 Hybrid.

“We can be quite satisfied with the performance of the car,” said Leupen. “This is always a difficult race for us and we got through much better than anticipated.”

Leupen also singled out Porsche’s better tyre management as one of the factors why the Weissach marque had a clear advantage over Toyota.

“The track was too hot for us,” Leupen explained. "We had problems keeping the tyres up to temperature. Double-stinting the tyres was difficult at times. We had a lot of problems with marbles and pick-up. 

“The temperatures were more suited to Porsche, but if you’re depending on the weather then that means you’re not good enough. Porsche deserved their victory.”

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