A “bittersweet” feeling for the #7 Toyota, second at Le Mans

It was 14"221 behind the #499 Ferrari 50P that the Toyota GR010 Hybrid bearing the number 7 finally failed to lower the checkered flag at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A performance nonetheless imbued with pride, the Japanese machine starting from 23rd and last place in the Hypercar category.

Published on 16/06/2024 à 19:23

Michael Duforest

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A “bittersweet” feeling for the #7 Toyota, second at Le Mans

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Following the exit from the track of Kamui Kobayashi during qualifying on Wednesday, the Toyota No. 7 was therefore sent to the back of the starting grid. After a first cautious relay of Nyck de Vries, the Japanese clan gained momentum, to the point of contesting victory at the Ferrari n°50 at the very end of the event. A spin by José Maria Lopez, two punctures and a few other problems ultimately deprived Toyota of a sixth success at Le Mans. The three members of the crew, Kamui Kobayashi (who also occupies the role of Team Principal of the team), Nyck de Vries and José Maria Lopez, expressed their pride but also a legitimate disappointment at having passed so close to victory.

For the Argentinian, it was also a very special event, since he was replacing his friend Mike conway, injured following a fall while cycling. Initially entered in the No. 87 Lexus, Lopez found himself replacing the Briton at short notice, and making an unexpected return to Hypercar.

Reactions from the drivers of the No. 7 Toyota

Kamui Kobayashi: “Five second places is starting to add up! Honestly, I think we did the best we could. Leave 23e and having a chance to win wouldn't have been easy, with the competition we were up against. We had two punctures during the race, which caused us to lose some time. We remain proud to be in this position. What’s great is that I passed Antonio [Fuoco] in the night in Indianapolis by “waving” to him through the window! And we saw each other eye to eye when I passed him (laughs)! Returning to Indianapolis, at night, at 320 km/h, and greeting Antonio, it was the strongest moment of my 24 Hours of Le Mans ! »

Nyck De Vries: “It was a race where a lot happened, a real challenge. The conditions were constantly changing, so it was stressful for us and the pit wall. Furthermore, the race was not decided until the very end. I have a bittersweet feeling if I'm honest. As Kamui said, you wonder what could have happened, there were quite a few little problems during the race, which were perhaps not visible from the outside, but which we definitely felt inside. We could have been closer to victory without that perhaps, but it's part of the race. Everyone did a great job, we prepared well. I thank my teammates, because José Maria was not scheduled with us but he did a very good job in the last relays. We must cherish this podium here. »

Jose Maria Lopez: “Firstly, I would like to congratulate Ferrari who have done an excellent job. Things have changed a lot here, with 23 cars now. Compared to previous years, it's a very different animal, the emotions are a bit of a roller coaster. When I went to bed we were in the third row, when I woke up there were 15 of use, then I went to the toilet and we were back second! There were so many ups and downs in this race, especially the weather conditions. On the one hand, I don't forget the fact that I wasn't even supposed to be there, Mike [Conway] is my friend, my brother, and I took his place. I think I made him proud, that was important, and I hope he comes back soon. I thank the entire team who trusted me. Last year, after we dropped out, I was a little sad that we didn't get an opportunity, we got it today and we were close, so I'm proud of that. »

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