Toyota celebrated another spectacular result recently with a one-two victory in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López finally won at Le Mans for the first time in the No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). The World Champions started from pole position and led for the majority of the race, completing 371 laps and securing GAZOO Racing’s fourth consecutive victory at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe.
Last year’s winners Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley completed a perfect result for the team by finishing second in the No. 8 GR010 HEV. GAZOO Racing (GR) has now won all four races of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) so far during the new GR010 HEV’s debut season.
An incident-packed 24 hours began on a wet track with Conway leading the field in the No. 7 GR010 HEV. Rain in the sixth hour caused several incidents, including a 20-minute safety car, but López maintained the lead while Hartley followed in second in the No. 8 GR010 HEV. The two vehicles continued to lead the race, with slow zones and safety cars contributing to a fluctuating gap as the GR team held a clear lead over the chasing pack.
As the race entered its final 12 hours, Kobayashi had stretched the No. 7 GR010 HEV’s lead to just over half a minute, with Hartley chasing in the No. 8 GR010 HEV. Despite some technical challenges, close communication between the drivers and race engineers on both vehicles ensured the team maintained their lead, with Kobayashi and Nakajima crossing the line together to make Hypercar history at Le Mans.
“To Kamui, Mike, and José, congratulations! The #7 crew finally got to the end of 24 hours and took the checkered flag on the highest step of the podium. I was so happy and relieved that I could nearly cry. Huge congratulations! Thank you so much,” said Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporate. “I heard it was announced that 100% renewable fuel would be introduced in the WEC next season. We are moving towards carbon neutrality through motorsport and we can make an effort to expand the options. We believe that we can speed up technological development through motorsport, because it is a place for serious competition, and will continue our efforts. To the fans, thank you for your support this time as well and I would be grateful if you could continue to support us in the future.”
José María López , Driver of the No. 7 GR010 HEV, said: “To finally win this race is a dream come true. It is simply amazing. We came so far for so many years but, up to now, we couldn’t win Le Mans. All those experiences make the victory even more special. Mike and Kamui are like brothers to me, and I have seen them doing things in the car which are just amazing. Of course, there is a strong team behind us in Japan and Cologne. We take the glory, but we couldn’t do this without this team. Thanks to all of you.”
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established GR to consolidate all of its motorsports activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ GR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of motorsports events, GR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.
No. 7 GR010 HEV (Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and José María López)
No. of Laps: 371
Best Lap: 3’27.734
No. 8 GR010 HEV (Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, and Brendon Hartley)
No. of Laps: 369
Best Lap: 3’27.607