With wins in the opening two FIA World Endurance Championship races, Anthony Davidson is hoping their bad luck string has finally been overturned heading into next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Toyota Gazoo Racing came heartbreakingly close to its elusive first victory in the French endurance classic last year.
Davidson, fellow former World Champion Sebastien Buemi and Japanese ace Kazuki Nakajima hold a 17-point lead in the Drivers’ World Championship, thanks to wins at Silverstone and Spa, all coming after a “laughable amount of bad luck” in their 2016 campaign, according to the Englishman.
“We certainly had some luck, the luck that we were missing and deserved from last year, where we should have won the race on merit,” Davidson told Sportscar365.
“If it’s the same case at Le Mans, so be it, because I think it makes up for what we had to go through last year when we were genuinely fast but we had terrible luck, on more than one occasion.”
In addition to their well-documented last-lap loss at Le Mans, Davidson battled a number of freak issues last year, although breaking that bad-luck streak last month in Silverstone with he and Buemi’s first win since Fuji 2014.
The trio backed it up again last weekend at Spa, despite having a “painfully slow” car, according to Davidson, with a performance deficit to the sister No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, which lost out on two Full Course Yellows in the race.
Still, the ex-Formula One driver admitted he’ll take the points, especially after literally not catching any breaks last year.
“It’s amazing to have two victories straight away in the first two races,” Davidson said. “This and Silverstone is making up for such a dreadful year last year.
“From the start of the year and after I won Silverstone as well, I said to the guys that ‘this is our year.’
“Last year was terrible. Even in testing, I suffered a crash, which put me out of Mexico. So even in testing, I was the one that was in the car when the car put me into the wall, hurt me and damaged my ribs.
“It was a laughable amount of bad luck we had last year, so if it turns around this year, then that’s great.
“If we just win Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans then I’ll happily give up all of the other race wins for the rest of the year!”
While Davidson is still scratching his head on their performance issue at Spa, which saw all three drivers in the No. 8 Toyota lacking six to seven-tenths of a second to the identical, high-downforce spec No. 7 car, he knows Le Mans will begin on a fresh slate.
“We’ll go to Le Mans with a completely different aero configuration, we’ll have a different engine in the back of it, different battery.. Everything will be changed, so we’ll be starting again from scratch and take that race as a whole new race,” Davidson said.
“You just drive to the car’s capabilities and see where you are at the end of it, pretty much like we did last year. You just have to see where you are at the end of the race.”
Despite there only being five LMP1 hybrids, Davidson is expecting a hard-fought race next month and admits that “anything can happen,” with the Japanese manufacturer living proof of that from last year’s defective turbo hose that denied Davidson and co. victory in the closing minutes.
“So far, we’ve run the car on high downforce configuration vs. Porsche’s low downforce,” he said. “Our low downforce car [at Spa] wasn’t too far off. But it did the ultimate fastest lap of the weekend, but Porsche had still had the better of it.
“I think it’s quite an extreme aero package for Le Mans, so we’ll see what it could do.
“You’ll have all three Toyotas in the fight and the two Porsches there and I’m sure they’re going to be very strong as well.”