After their heartbreaking, last-minute loss at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota was looking to turn its fortunes around at the next race in the World Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring—but it was not to be.
The reigning world champions Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, and Brendon Hartley were the first to the checkered flag at the six-hour race in the Porsche 919 Hybrid, repeating their win from last year, and extending the manufacturer’s lead in the championship.
That marked Porsche’s third win out of four rounds, with five more races still to go in the season. Toyota has yet to win one, and though that may seem discouraging, there’s plenty to be optimistic about—and Toyota thinks so too.The first round in Silverstone didn’t go well for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team, but the second round at Spa had looked very promising.
In fact, the #5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid had looked poised to win the race before a mechanical issue dropped it down to fifth, though the #6 Toyota still managed to grab a podium position. At Le Mans it was more of the same, albeit the timing was far more crushing as victory had seemed a sure thing when the #5 Toyota lost turbo power with just two laps to go in the 24-hour race.
Unfortunately, Toyota’s performance at the Nürburgring was more of a repeat of Silverstone than Spa or Le Mans. According to technical director Pascal Vasselon, this is because the new high-downforce aerodynamic package the team brought to the track wasn’t quite optimal. “Each track has its ideal ratio, and we have a window where the [aero] package is good,” he explained. “Here we were a bit out of the window.”
However, he was optimistic about Toyota’s chances at the upcoming races. “We can expect to be more in the game at Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain, these places are much more centered for the window for our package.”
With five rounds still to go, any of the LMP1 manufacturers can still win the WEC. Stay tuned for more news as the season develops.