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Road to Le Mans: Toyota's season so far

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Jack Hunsley, May 29, 2015.

  1. Jack Hunsley

    Jack Hunsley

    Next up in our Road to Le Mans series, it's time to take a look at the reigning champions; Toyota.

    Early Season Impressions

    If I was forced to pick a single word to describe Toyota's start to the 2015 WEC season, I'd be hard pressed to go with anything else other than 'unspectacular', at least in comparison to their start last year.

    By this point last season Toyota held a comfortable advantage over their LMP1 rivals, partially thanks to Audi's double DNF at the season opener at Silverstone and the fact that Porsche was busy getting to grips with the series. So, in contrast to their 100% podium record they held in 2014 going into Le Mans, to arrive in France this time around with only a single podium finish courtesy of the #1 car of Davidson, Buemi and Nakajima in Silverstone, already cast a fair amount of doubt over their chances of victory over the 24 hours.


    Add on top of that doubt over Nakajima's presence in the #1 car for Le Mans, despite recent developments that suggest he is on the verge of being declared fit to take part in the Le Mans test day on Sunday, will certainly hamper Toyota's preparations for the big day.

    The Car

    Newcomers to the WEC (and we welcome you with open arms) would be forgiven for not realising that Toyota's 2015 was the car to beat last season. For all intensive purposes the TS040 dominated in 2014 by winning 5 of the 8 races and appearing on the podium at every single race; a rather impressive feat when you consider that Toyota have never run a third entry.

    But this year they have been almost anonymous.


    Minus the Silverstone podium Toyota have been comfortably the weakest of the LMP1 teams; left to scrounge for whatever falls by the wayside in the Porsche-Audi battle at the very pointy end.

    One way to showcase how Toyota have seemingly fallen from grace is just how far they were off pole in Spa last time out. Whilst last season Toyota started 2nd just 7 tenths off pole, this year they could only manage 6th and a best time a whopping 2.7 seconds off the #17 Porsche.

    Over a race distance things aren't much better either. Again looking at Spa, Toyota's best time in the race was slower than all of the Porsche's and Audi's minus the #9 car of Albuquerque, Bonanomi and Rast, and whilst fastest laps aren't necessarily the best indicator of overall race pace in a 6 hour races, it does shed a little light on Toyota's problems.

    The Prediction

    For Le Mans the simple fact is that, at least in normal racing conditions, a Toyota victory seems unlikely and a Toyota pole position even more preposterous. Of course, as has been highlight in every 'Road to Le Mans' article so far, 24 hours is a long time, but even with this in mind I simply don't see either Toyota being able to best three Audi's AND three Porsche's over a race distance. Add on top of that the as of yet unknown threat of Nissan and Rebellion, it is entirely likely that Toyota could be spending more time looking over their shoulders then hanging on the ragtails of their German counterparts.

    Next time on the 'Road to Le Mans': Nissan , Rebellion and ByKolles. Where will they fit in the mix?

    Do you think Toyota have a shot of competing with Audi or Porsche? Or perhaps even that they'll chuck the form book out the window entirely? Comment below!
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
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