Toyota’s president suggested hybrid technology may be “not yet ready for the long distance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans” after the Japanese manufacturer again failed to win endurance racing’s greatest prize.
World Endurance Championship
Race 3: Le Mans 24 Hours, Circuit de la Sarthe
After the 2016 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, anyone would have been forgiven for accepting a straightforward Toyota victory to provide redemption for their last-lap heartbreak.
But this time they didn’t come close to making it that far. Within 12 hours of the start all three Toyotas were completely out contention. The leading number seven car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin retired due to clutch failure triggered by a bizarre mix-up during a Safety Car period. Kobayashi mistook LMP2 driver Vincent Capillaire for a marshal and pulled away when Capillaire gave him a thumbs-up gesture in encouragement. Kobayashi then had to stop and re-start which subject the clutch to excessive stress, causing it to fail.
Porsche suffered trouble with both cars as well. Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley’s 919 spent an hour in the pits and only managed to wrest the lead of the race from one of the slower LMP2 entries with an hour to go.
The difficulties faced by Toyota and Porsche’s five LMP1 hybrids prompted a surprising response from Toyota president Akio Toyoda. “Even [Porsche’s] winning car number two and our car number eight, which completed the race, were forced to undergo time-consuming, trouble-caused repairs, before struggling to cross the finish line,” he noted.
“While the hybrid technology that has advanced through competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship puts its abilities on display in six-hour races, it might be that it is not yet ready for the long distance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
The LMP2 ORECA-Gibson of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent caused a sensation by leading a portion of the race. The trio went on to take second outright and won the LMP2 class.
However Nelson Piquet Jnr, Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson were stripped of third place overall after their Rebellion team were found to have altered a homologated part of their car. Alex Brundle, Tristan Gommendy and David Cheng were therefore promoted to third place overall and second in LMP2.
A closely-fought GTE Pro race was only decided as the 340th and final lap began. Jonny Adam put the Aston Martin he shared with Darren Turner and Daniel Serra ahead of the ailing Chevrolet Corvette of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.
- Porsche wins race of attrition at Le Mans
- Watch more World Endurance Championship videos on RaceVideoIndex
Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters
Races 5-6: Hungaroring
In the first of two races on Saturday, Paul Di Resta took the win for Mercedes ahead of Timo Glock and Bruno Spengler’s BMWs. The two ex-Formula One drivers both pitted on lap six gained back most of the time lost in the pits when Maxime Martin stopped on track with damage. Pole sitter Rene Rast pitted on lap 23 and finished sixth.
Rast took pole for the Sunday race too but this time he held on and took his first career victory in comfortable fashion. He finished ahead of Audi team mate Mattias Ekstrom, with Martin recovering from the previous day’s retirement to take third. Lucas Auer, the championship leader prior to Hungary, failed to finish, meaning Rast also took over at the head of the standings.
European Formula Three
Races 10-12: Hungaroring
A poor weekend for Lando Norris in Hungary meant he slipped to fourth in the championship having arrived at the Hungaroring tied for the points lead. Joel Eriksson holds a slender five-point margin over Maximilian Gunter with Callum Ilott another 12 points behind.
Gunther dominated the opening race of the weekend, collecting fastest lap as he converted pole position to victory. Jake Hughes finished runner-up with Jehan Daruvala completing the podium. Ilott took his own lights-to-flag victory in race two, overcoming early pressure from Eriksson who came home second. Ferrari junior Guanyu Zhou took the final step on the podium but it was another race to forget for Norris, who started on the second row but finished 14th after another poor start.
Eriksson reversed the result in the final race of the weekend, topping the podium ahead of Ilott and Zhou once again. Norris applied pressure late on to take the final podium place, but came up just short in fourth place.
Race 15: Michigan
Kyle Larson claimed victory with a great restart just fourteen laps from the end. Chase Elliot and Joey Logano finished second and third.
Over to you
What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.
Next weekend’s racing
The Formula One world championship continues in Azerbaijan this weekend, supported by Formula Two. Here’s what else is racing:
- IndyCar race 10: Road America
- NASCAR Cup race 16: Sonoma
- World Series Formula V8 3.5 races 9-10: Motorland
- World Touring Car Championship races 9-10: Portugal
Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@mathers) for contributing to this article.
Weekend Racing Wrap
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- IndyCar veteran ends three-year win-less streak
- Late crash decides thrilling Rally of Poland
- WTCC introduces ‘joker laps’ but bizarre practice crash prompts safety questions
- Hybrids ‘not ready for Le Mans’ Toyota suggest after latest defeat