Toyota has “consumed its jokers” after replacing its No. 7 car’s monocoque in the wake of Mike Conway’s qualifying collision at Le Mans, according to the LMP1 team’s technical director Pascal Vasselon.
Conway, driving the provisional pole-sitting No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, plowed into the right-front corner of the No. 31 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 Gibson at the Ford Chicane.
The Toyota driver was caught out by DragonSpeed driver Roberto Gonzalez, who was re-entering the track after spinning off-line.
Vasselon confirmed to Sportscar365 that a new monocoque was scrambled in time for this evening’s final two qualifying sessions following a “deeper check”.
The No. 7 Toyota returned to action later in the Wednesday night qualifying run, but didn’t improve on its best time of 3:17.161 seat earlier on by Kamui Kobayashi.
“Inspecting the monocoque is always a longer job,” said Vasselon.
“The monocoque is not destroyed. There is just a crack that we do not want to have there for the race. But it was possible to run just after.
“It’s really a second, deeper check which has revealed the crack, and then we went for the change.”
Regarding the incident, Vasselon apportioned parts of the blame to both parties.
“It’s a difficult one because it’s clearly for us, not for the stewards, it was a shared responsibility,” he said.
“First, Gonzalez spins where he should not spin and then he closes the driving line at the moment when the car arrives.
“On the other hand, there is a double-yellow, and drivers – especially in testing and during a normal run and not a full-on quali attack –are supposed to be able to control their speed.
“For us, we are not happy about it.”
Vasselon said he has issued a stern warning to the Toyota drivers to take fewer risks during the remaining sessions ahead of the WEC season-ending race.
He also revealed that the No. 8 Toyota suffered bodywork damage after contact with an Aston Martin GTE car during the first qualifying session.
When asked if the Conway incident will serve as a useful warning to the team, Vasselon said: “I think so.”
“Everyone has seen this crash, but we have had many other contacts and curb riding with both cars. Both cars, yesterday in qualification 1, have been taking too many risks.
“We had a driver debrief and we have shared with them our view and all of them have accepted that it was not appropriate to take this level of risk.
“It’s reasonably clear that during the race they will not commit to some of the things they have done. We have consumed our jokers, I would say.”