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24H Le Mans

Toyota Drivers Support Planned 24H Le Mans Points Reduction

Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi on planned points reduction for 24H Le Mans…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Toyota Gazoo Racing drivers Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi have offered their support to the FIA World Endurance Championship’s planned points reduction for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Since the formation of the WEC in 2012, Le Mans has been worth double points through all four classes, giving the overall winners 50 points for victory instead of the usual 25.

Concerns have been raised in the past about the heavy weighting of Le Mans, with the winners of the race going on to take the Drivers’ World Championship in four of the last five seasons.

As first revealed by Sportscar365 last week, plans are in place to reduce the Le Mans points weight from double to 1.5x for the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’, subject to final approval FIA World Motor Sport Council set to arrive early next month.

It’s understood a further proposal has been made to potentially alter the points offered for the season-ending Le Mans race in 2019, at a different ratio than the 2018 race, although representatives from the FIA and ACO have declined comment on any matters to the sporting regulations until the final WMSC approval on Dec. 6.

Davidson and Buemi missed out on the WEC drivers’ title alongside Kazuki Nakajima in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid this year despite winning five out of nine races, with a bad Le Mans after reliability issues costing them dearly.

“I’ve always complained about the fact that Le Mans was double points,” Davidson told Sportscar365.

“It’s not so much that winning the race was double points. It’s the fact that if you have a DNF, which is, let’s be honest, it’s more likely than at any other race to have a DNF at that one race, and it hurts you twice as bad when you’re racing against only three other cars in the championship. It really does hurt you.

“It goes to show that we have five race victories, and still you don’t have a sniff of a chance of the championship because of that one DNF or a lack of performance at Le Mans, or a lack of reliability, which more often than not is the case with that race.

“It was always a bit of an unfair race to not score any points at when there were double up for grabs. I think it’s the right thing to do, I’m happy it’s there.

“It’s happened a bit too late, because honestly, the season would still have been alive [in Bahrain] and it would have gone down to the wire.

“The whole championship would have benefitted from that. I don’t think it’s even an argument, it’s just a fact.”

For Buemi, the double points awarded for Le Mans has made the championship even more unbalanced since Audi’s withdrawal at the end of the 2016 season, which had left just four LMP1 cars on the grid this year.

“When you had six cars like you had last year with the Audi, if you were not so good, you could still end up finishing fifth, even if your teammate helps you,” Buemi explained to Sportscar365.

“If they finish fifth, and you’re first, you start to catch up a lot of points. But at the moment with four cars, you win Le Mans, you don’t retire, and you’re guaranteed third every race – because the teammate can let you by like they did at Porsche.

“Then it’s very difficult because you would only catch up 10 points per race in the best case scenario. It is as it is, we cannot change it [for 2017].

“But the reduction of points at Le Mans I think is a good thing in general for the championship.”

Toyota LMP1 technical director Pascal Vasselon offered a more neutral view on the possible change, but made no secret of the swag Le Mans has had on the championship in recent years.

“We have participated in the debate in the sporting working group. I have to say we have no strong opinion,” Vasselon said.

“On one side, we’ve been hit two times in a row by the strong influence of the Le Mans result to the championship.

“Last year and this year, Le Mans has clearly been the turning point of the championship. We’ve been [affected] two times by this points distribution.

“Nevertheless, it’s understandable that Le Mans has more points.

“Honestly, we have no strong opinion. If it’s 1.5 x, if it’s 2 x, that’s fine. We will not fight with that.”

Toyota confirmed last weekend that it will continue its LMP1 program into the Super Season, which kicks off at Spa in May and includes two editions of Le Mans.

John Dagys contributed to this report

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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