Kamui Kobayashi Reflects on Thrilling 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota Gazoo Racing

    (Dakar, June 15, 2023) Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal and driver Kamui Kobayashi described the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans as “a phenomenal race through 24 hours, with every manufacturer fighting non-stop.” The Japanese team narrowly missed out on victory in the epic endurance event.

    Challenging Qualifying Session

    The qualifying session on Wednesday, June 12, did not go as planned for Toyota, with the #8 car qualifying 11th on the grid and the #7 car, driven by Kobayashi, having to start 23rd after a spin in the final moments.

    Toyota’s Recovery through the Field

    Despite the setbacks, both Toyotas made steady progress through the field, and by Sunday morning, they were very much in the mix for the victory. The #8 Toyota, driven by Ryo Hirakawa, led the race for a significant portion, but late-race contact with the #51 Ferrari pushed the Toyota down to 6th place.

    Meanwhile, the #7 Toyota, with José María López at the wheel, was battling the #50 Ferrari for the lead. After a final fuel stop, López set about chasing down the leading Ferrari, but a minor turbo issue caused enough of a delay for the Ferrari to win. The team instructed López to bring the car home in second, securing valuable points for the team in the 4th round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The #8 car finished 5th.

    Kobayashi’s Reflection on the Race

    “Obviously, it was a very tough race for us,” commented Kobayashi. “We could have won, but we had a few issues. It was not a smooth 24 hours for the #7 car, but the whole team did such a great work throughout a very tough week. Everyone wants to win this race, and we were very close. Such a close finish makes us hungry to come back stronger next year, and we will do our best to achieve that.”

    The #7 Toyota drivers, including Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries, and López, expressed their pride in the team’s performance and disappointment in not securing the victory. The #8 Toyota drivers, Sébastian Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Hirakawa, also shared their emotions, with Hartley describing the victory as “just slipping away” in the final hours.

    Looking Ahead to the Next Round

    With the 24 Hours of Le Mans now in the books, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team shifts their focus to the 6 Hours of São Paulo, the fifth round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship, scheduled for July 14.

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