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LM24: Toyota 'Did The Right Thing' Not Swapping Race Leaders

LM24 Toyota Driver Swap.jpg

2019 Le Mans race winners Toyota believe they 'did the right thing' not swapping positions late on following tyre troubles for the dominant #7 TS050 Hybrid.


With the 87th running of the famous endurance classic always looking destined to be a Toyota victory, it would be the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez that showed the greatest pace over the 24 hour event, until a late race puncture led to the rather dramatic mistake by their Toyota crew that sealed victory to the trailing #8 of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

With Lopez behind the wheel of the #7 heading into the closing hour of the race, the Argentinian multiple World Touring Car Champion reported a potential right-rear puncture and duly brought his race leading car into the pitlane for a change of tyres, with over two minutes advantage over the sister #8 machine.

Unfortunately for Lopez and his crew, Toyota would mistakenly replace a different tyre on the car, and not all four, leaving the distraught Argentinian to slowly crawl round the 13+ km circuit for a further lap before eventually returning back to pit road - by now having lost the lead to their Toyota team-mates in the #8 machine.

With both cars clear at the front of the field in a dominant 1-2 formation, Toyota MP1 team boss Rob Leupen claims the manufacturer discussed swapping the cars around before the race finish - eventually electing to maintain status quo and allow the #8 to take their second consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours victory - and the 2019 FIA World Endurance Championship drivers title.

"We thought about doing something [about the running order], but that wouldn’t have been correct,” Leupen explained to motorsport.com.​

"We talked it through with the drivers and I think we did the right thing. Le Mans chooses its winner again.”
When quizzed about why the Japanese manufacturer failed to replace all four tyres at the initial pitstop, Leupen was at a loss as to explain the move by his #7 crew:

"The simple question was asked why we didn’t change all four tyres to be safe," said Leupen. "We didn’t do that. It’s all in the game and then you have to make a decision.

"I don’t know what happened. I don’t think we’re really thinking about that right now. I think the people of the #7 car have a lot of problems with this and we first have to accept it."
Conspiracy theories will no doubt be claiming that Toyota engineered a victory for Alonso and co. to end the chapter with the Spanish World Champion on a high following their year together in the WEC, but either way, it was certainly a dramatic end to what has been yet another incredible Le Mans 24 Hours race weekend.

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of course #7 deserved more than #8...but this is motorsport,no mercysport.
sometimes s*it happens,this is part of the game as toyota knows well
 

Fat-Alfie

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I think Toyota tried to get the result they wanted without causing a s**tstorm.
 
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Wait, you guys were watching LMP1 in the race too? i was watching it the whole 24 Hours and didn't notice them once , hats off to you , eagle eyes :D:p jk

it was the least F*** up thing in the race , after-Qualy BoP or i should say a "few hours before race BoP" was the most F*** up thing! a team showed it can be competitive for the first time in the whole season and in just one qualy session (in the last race ironically), boom loosing horse power for the race!
 
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Keep changing my mind about this - do I believe the 7 crew was incompetent enough to change the wrong wheel ( they clearly had enough good tyres to change all given Lopez pace at the end ), do I believe the factory fitted a sensor wrongly ( how do you diametrically oppose tyre pressure readings? I doubt it's simply fitting something backwards, and how does it not show up on simple diagnostics? ), do I believe someone fed simulated bad data in without involving the crew at all, which would certainly limit the size of any conspiracy, and what would be the real benefit of any swap. Toyota are managed by a culture with motivations somewhat alien to those of us used to a western corporate mindset on top of everything else.

The fact everyone I was watching the race with, and even in the RLM studio was *expecting* this enhances any confirmation bias, but on the other hand why is there any expectation? either way that win belonged to the drivers of 7 if not the pit crew management, and history is going to ignore that completely.

GTE-AM stole the show again, proper unfolding strategy like a real endurance event. PRO was a total farce and I can't believe people are still thinking cars in line-astern fuel saving are actually racing. Once the field fragmented due to SC there was no spare performance to compensate. P2 had some interesting contests but we didn't get to see much. Not the best LM ever.
 
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To be honest who care's about the vehicle swap..If you take Toyota out of the race the race was still the same level of excitment without them, actually probably abit more as the camera's wouldn't of every so often had to cut back and watch them, Toyota won again for the same reason they did last year, they had no competion, also the same reason they stayed in and didn't leave with the rest..
 
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It's pretty sad when the only halfway-interesting thing about Le Mans is which Toyota was allowed to win.

Since they have no real competition.
 
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It's pretty sad when the only halfway-interesting thing about Le Mans is which Toyota was allowed to win. Since they have no real competition.
I was the biggest Alonso Fan ......those days fighting with Shumi in F1 . Arguably the best driver in F1 But truth is every where he has gone his BS has caused shat. From Renault crash gate to screwing his own situation up with all the BS with Hamilton..to Ferrari to really getting what he deserved at McLaren. It was all his doing.
And now he waves flags and smiles on podiums like he really did something. Lost all respect for this dude over the last several years.
 
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Now that the FIA has allowed Toyota to win everything but Silverstone, I hope they will finally allow privateers to fight against them. Remove the Toyotas refueling time advandage, remove stint lenght difference, equalize the lap times and I will be happy.

Anyway, the real race for me was the battles in GTE PRO and AM. Shame that the stupid safety cars unfairly split the field several times. And sad to see that AMR and BMW got a unfair BoP, I'd love to have seen them in the fight.

Overall good race, but rules need to improve for the next one.
 
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Even if the #7 car had won, Alonso still would have been the WEC champion.
This conspiracy theory is weak.
 

Patrik Marek

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wouldn't it be much easier to tune down engine to a point where the other car overtakes? either directly from pit wall or over radio " hey guys, engine is showing signs of overheating, reduce power immediately" ..etc.
 
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They orchestrated the #8 winning so they did what they wanted to. Hallow championship for Fernando. The lack of competition is why he wasn't sharp for Indy!!!!
His Indy performance was nothing to do with him. It was the utterly appalling job McLaren did. They decided to enter without the help offered to them. The Indy 500 is a very specialised race requiring specialised engineers. Only at the last minute did they accept the offers of help from Andretti and Penske, it was just too late.
 

Isaac Chavira

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Pretty cool to see a customer car of the Ford GTE this year. Sad for the Vette #63 being put into the wall. Did the Porsche hit him or did the Vette turn into the Porsche?

I think Toyota had it in the bag anyway. They have more money and experience than the other two teams did in P1. The Rebellion liveries were pretty damn cool though.

Them not switching cars I think has little to do with racing politics. I think is was more not quitting while you're ahead. I mean you're almost done why not just finish. Everything is a team effort there.
 
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"Toyota would mistakenly replace a different tyre on the car"
That is not what I have heard. They say there was a faulty sensor and none of the tyres had a slow puncture. Toyota have only realised there was problem with sensor after two unnecessary pit-stops. Please correct me if I am wrong.
 

Ole Marius Myrvold

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If I remember the entry list properly there are more LMP1 entries than this season. Next season starts in 6 weeks.

Nope. ByKolles and DragonSpeed are out.
Ginetta have entered two cars, but as far as I can remember, Tomlinson are only willing to finance one car himself, so if there are no takers on the second, we'll at most see one Ginetta.

"Toyota would mistakenly replace a different tyre on the car"
That is not what I have heard. They say there was a faulty sensor and none of the tyres had a slow puncture. Toyota have only realised there was problem with sensor after two unnecessary pit-stops. Please correct me if I am wrong.

They have said the left-rear was going down.
 
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