Toyota has revealed that aerodynamic problems for the No. 7 car cost it a chance of fighting for the overall win in last weekend’s Six Hours of Nuürburgring.
The pole-sitting No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi led the opening stages of the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, only for it to fade back from the second hour, in what was initially thought to be tire degradation during Jose Maria Lopez’s second stint.
However, post-race analysis identified an “unexpected change” in aero performance, according to the Japanese manufacturer.
A statement from Toyota read: “The pole-position-winning car had led the early stages but suffered a loss of performance in the middle of the race, which prevented it challenging the leading Porsches.
“During the race this was identified as an issue with aerodynamic balance migration.
“Post-race investigation has revealed significant damage to the underfloor of the No. 7 car as well as a hole in the rear wing, which caused cracks in the main plane during the race.”
The team believes the underfloor was damaged by curb riding and debris that struck the rear wing, which ultimately led to Kobayashi, Lopez and Mike Conway finishing more than one-minute behind in third, and unable to challenge in the second half of the race.
While not suffering any aero-related issues, the No. 8 Toyota was knocked out of contention at the start when it lost five laps due to replacing the car’s fuel pump after issues on the formation lap.
Porsche, meanwhile, controlled the race, with a dominant 1-2 result, which saw team orders hand the win to the World Championship-leading No. 1 crew of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber.
However, both Porsche 919 Hybrids also suffered aero degradation issues, although less severe and related to tire buildup.
“More than once today we had problems with rubber pick-up that got stuck in the bodywork,” Porsche team principal Andreas Seidl said.
“This caused changing performances of our cars until we were able to clean the parts again at the pit stops. Therefore, our cars swapped positions several times.”
Toyota leaves the Nürburgring wth a 39.5-point deficit to Porsche in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, with Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi 30 points behind the Le Mans-winning Porsche trio with five rounds to go.