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“Not Much to Lose” for No. 8 Toyota Crew in Title Chase

No. 8 Toyota drivers on championship battle heading into Bahrain double-header…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi believe there’s “not much to lose” for the No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing crew in the Hypercar World Endurance Drivers Championship, with the duo and co-driver Kazuki Nakajima likely needing victory in Saturday’s 6 Hours of Bahrain in order to keep their title chances alive heading into next weekend’s season finale.

The No. 8 car lost the points lead to teammates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez following the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid took victory in dramatic fashion after both cars battled fuel pump-related issues.

Hartley, Buemi and Nakajima trail their teammates by 9 points heading into the penultimate round of the season, with only a 10-point possible swing between first and third place finishes in the three-car Hypercar class this weekend, not counting the 1 point for pole.

The Alpine Endurance Team trio of Nico Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere sit a further 21 points behind the No. 8 Toyota trio, and are unlikely to factor into things unless both Toyotas fail to finish the eight-hour finale, which will pay 1.5x points.

“Both races will be a full out attack in a way, particularly for us in Car 8,” Hartley told Sportscar365.

“We’re a few points behind in the championship after the other car took the double points [win] at Le Mans.

“In a way there’s not much for us to lose. We really have to do everything we can to try and win both races. That’s really our only chance to try and take the championship from them.

“We’re going to be doing everything we can to beat the sister car.

“It’s going to be a fair fight and the team always does a good job to give us equal equipment and equal opportunity. 

“Sometimes a bit of luck comes into it. Obviously at Le Mans we had the issues before [them] and then it was just about the team result in the end.

“These next two races we’ve been told it’s a straight fight.

“The first priority is to finish ahead of Car 7 in the first race. So we’ll be doing everything we can do to that.”

After winning the opening two rounds of the championship at Spa-Francorchamps and Portimao, the No. 8 car took a hit in the title race at the 6 Hours of Monza when fuel pump issues forced them to the garage.

The No. 8 car was also the first to encounter repeat fuel-related issues at Le Mans, effectively handing the win to the sister Toyota in the French endurance classic.

“We were a bit unlucky in Monza with the issue we had,” Buemi explained. “They had the same issue but in Free Practice so they were able to change it and we had it in the race unfortunately.

“Then in Le Mans we had more of an issue than them so we could not really fight them to the end. 

“Luck is always turning. For us we’ll do the best we can and we’ll fight for the win. We want to try to beat them; that’s clear.

“On the other hand we want to secure the teams’ championship at the first round like that so the team doesn’t have extra pressure for the final race here.

“We’re [heading] in to push as hard as we can. We’re behind so we don’t have much to lose either. 

“Even a six-hour race is long and things can happen.”

Leupen: Team Orders Procedure Has Not Changed for Bahrain

Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe team director Rob Leupen has confirmed that its team order procedure has not changed for the Bahrain double-header despite the tightened points race and likelihood of it locking up the Hypercar Teams’ Championship one race early.

“The drivers drive it out,” Leupen told Sportscar365. “We have orders to say if they’re in the way of each other to manage the two cars if one is quicker than the other.

“This is where we have a normal process, which we’ve agreed with the drivers.

“There will be no team orders towards which car should win. They should make it between themselves. 

“We need proper race management because we would like to have a Toyota car ahead of any other manufacturer or brand that’s here, so from that point of view we’ll try to do that but the drivers should make it.”

Leupen added: “What we don’t want is to end the two cars in the final lap in the corner outside in the gravel. This is something we want to avoid. 

“Here we say, ‘This is what we want to keep managing’. If it’s not necessary, OK. But we have certain rules for both cars that are the same and this we will apply.

“If they are fighting for position and there is no big difference, then this will be judged by the race engineers and the chief race engineer.

“It will definitely not be different and we hope both cars give their best and go for the championship.”

The organized place change occurred in this year’s 8 Hours of Portimao, where the No. 8 car of Buemi went past Lopez with ten minutes to go to take the win after being deemed the quicker car at the time.

Hartley added: “I guess it’s quite complicated how they work out which car is quicker.

“We’re still racing each other but it’s not always wheel-to-wheel action to avoid any contact between the cars. We all know the guidelines and we race according to that.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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