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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.


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