“It was a difficult race for us,” said Sébastien, “but we pushed really hard from the start. We tried a few things, like double stinting the tyres, which shows we were pushing to the maximum. At the end, I tried to catch the Porsche but couldn’t quite manage with older tyres.”
45,000 spectators flocked to the famous British track during the 2015 season-opening round to witness a thrilling multi-car battle for victory. The #2 TS040 HYBRID, piloted by Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway, finished just off the podium in fourth place, to ensure both TOYOTA Racing cars scored 27 manufacturer points.
Strategy played a key role in Sunday’s race with all manufacturer teams adopting different tactics to fight for the victory. A breathless opening half an hour saw some frenetic wheel to wheel racing as the Porsches took an early lead with the TOYOTA TS040 HYBRIDs fending off their Audi counterparts.
Running third (#1 with Sébastien) and sixth (#2 with Alex) early on, the team reacted to a full course yellow, which demands that all cars drive at a maximum 80km/h, pitting for tyres and fuel. Another yellow 30 minutes later saw the #2 car pit again for extra fuel, putting it on a different strategy.
Misfortune for two rival cars saw the two TOYOTA Racing cars elevated to third and fourth ahead of the first driver changes at the quarter distance mark.
Anthony took control of the #1 car and wasted no time hunting down the leaders. He took the overall lead of the race at the subsequent round of pit stops, opting to stay on the same Michelin rubber to save time during his stop. The two TOYOTA TS040 HYBRIDS were running 1-2 at that stage of the race with Anthony’s British compatriot Mike Conway at the helm of the #2 car.
Anthony relinquished the lead of the race by the halfway point of the race, while Mike dropped to fourth after a bollard got trapped under the front of his car, hampering his progress.
“It was a tough race,” said Mike. “I picked up a bollard on the front of the car and it wrecked my first stint. I lost a lot of downforce and it was unpredictable. Everything returned to normal at the pit stop and I pushed to regain some time. At that point, fourth was the best we could do, so we brought it home and got some good points.”
Kazuki Nakajima, starting his first full WEC campaign for TOYOTA Racing this year, took over from Anthony in the #1 car while Stéphane Sarrazin jumped into the #2. With different tyre strategies, the race was heating up with the #1 car firmly in the hunt for second place and the #2 car in fourth place.