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Buemi: Toyota’s Le Mans, WEC Defeats ‘Not Bad Luck Any More’

Buemi says Toyota’s lack of WEC titles or Le Mans victory is not just about bad luck…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Sebastien Buemi does not consider Toyota’s failure to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans or either of the FIA World Endurance Championship titles to be down to bad luck alone despite winning five races this season.

Alongside Toyota co-drivers Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, Buemi claimed his fifth win from the nine-race WEC season in last month’s Six Hours of Bahrain, marking a new LMP1 record in the series.

Despite the string of victories and arguably having the quicker car for much of the season, Buemi still finished 25 points adrift of the championship-winning Porsche team, with a lack of reliability at Le Mans costing Toyota dearly.

“As we did in the last few years, in general we were managing to have a competitive car, but somehow Le Mans didn’t work out,” Buemi told Sportscar365.

“I don’t consider it bad luck any more. I consider that we are not doing everything as we should be doing.

“We’ve been trying to understand exactly what happened on the cars. Hopefully we’ll finally nail it next year.”

While happy to see the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid take a fifth win of the year in Bahrain, the result only added to team technical director Pascal Vasselon’s frustration after a third straight season without a title.

“[Winning in Bahrain] was our target, and we achieved it. It makes the whole thing even more frustrating,” Vasselon said.

“Now we can say we’ve dominated six races from nine and in the end we still lost the title, and everything. It was a bit frustrating.

“We had three cars at Le Mans and all three had issues. That was really the frustration. That’s where the nature of the season for us changed.

“We did a lot of mistakes this season. That’s what it is, and why you call it motorsport.”

Nine Wins But No Titles For Buemi

Across his racing duties in both sports cars and Formula E, Buemi enjoyed a remarkable calendar year that saw him win nine of the 19 races he entered – but came away with no championships and no Le Mans win to show for it.

Buemi won four Formula E races through 2017 after winning an additional two in the 2016 races over the winter calendar season, but failed to win a second title after missing the New York double-header due to clashing WEC commitments and managing not to score any points in the Montreal finale.

Added to his five WEC wins, Buemi ended 2017 with a win ratio of 47 percent, with his performances giving him some solace despite the lack of silverware.

“I’m a bit disappointed. At one point I was leading both championships, and then I ended up finishing second in both championships,” he said.

“I’m kind of sad about that situation, because all in all I could have done better, I could have done worse.

“But before starting the season I knew that the problem of the clash could happen and I had to accept it anyway, so I’m not going to blame the loss of the [Formula E] championship on New York.

“But certainly when you don’t race two races and get disqualified twice, and you end up with four times zero points, even if you win lots of races, it’s difficult to compensate.

“I take the positives out of it, and we cannot do anything any more. We can only look forward and try to do better.

“Even though I didn’t win the championship, it’s one of the best seasons I had. I had good seasons the past two or three years, but this has been a good one, yeah.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. EDH

    December 22, 2017 at 9:59 am

    I would rather the leadership be making these comments, but this is refreshing to hear after Akio Toyota and Hugues de Chaunac released statements blaming hybrid systems for their Le Mans failures. de Chaunac, of course lost 4 diesels in 2010 and Toyota handed the race to Porsche in 1998.

    With that said, I very much appreciate their participation and recognise they have certainly had some bad luck like the 2014 transponder fire.

    • TF110

      December 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

      If the #9 Toyota didn’t have Lapierre driving so fast after the incident, the car was in the right place to win. It’s not all Toyota’s fault but they accepted the blame. Both of the Porsche’s had failures too. They got the mgu changed faster than the #8 because they didn’t change the battery like Toyota. Without that the outcome is different. Buemi should realize that.

      • amlv20

        December 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm

        if,if,if,if,if….that’s all you ever got.the transmission was stuck in gear that’s why he drove so fast.just accept it,what kind of excuse will there be when they blow up again and hand the win to rebellion or god forbid a P2.even if they do win it will be an empty win against no real competition.

        • Anonymous

          December 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm

          Your not only racing 50-odd competitors, your racing against the conditions as well! At a race like Le Mans it is very rarely the fastest car that wins!

        • Gonçalo Santos

          December 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm

          A win is still a win. You dont remember the competition as much as you remember the winner do you??

  2. Troll Me

    December 22, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Well Audi had a long ass time racing against themselves, so when Peugeot came in, they were more than ready, I guess.

    Or maybe it’s just that they are German.

  3. popopopopo

    December 23, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Toyota never won Le mans 24 before and their loss is still considered bad luck?!? Japanese privilege is real!!!

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