Connect with us


Toyota Not Getting “Overexcited” After Imola Win

Toyota technical boss David Floury unhappy with dry-weather pace deficit to Ferrari despite surprise 6H Imola win…

Photo: Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing should not get “overexcited” about its surprise victory in last weekend’s 6 Hours of Imola given the pace shown by Ferrari in the dry, according to the Japanese marque’s technical director David Floury.

The No. 7 Toyota crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Nyck de Vries took what had seemed like an unlikely win in the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season, taking full advantage of the opportunity presented by a rain shower that allowed Toyota to gain the upper hand via strategy.

Ferrari had appeared to be in a strong position to win its home race until the start of the penultimate hour, when it left all three of its 499Ps out on slick tires on a wet track four laps later than the two Toyota GR010 Hybrids.

Kobayashi was then able to hang on in the final hour against the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport entry of Kevin Estre to take the win while fuel saving.

“We won without being the fastest, so it was enjoyable in terms of strategy and team execution,” recalled Floury. “We did our job [on strategy] and the team did a perfect execution. Kamui was brilliant at the end of the race to stay in front.

“I don’t think we should be overexcited, because it was a race that was decided by strategy calls, not on pure pace. If you look at the pure pace, and the fastest lap time, Ferrari is still four tenths faster than us. This is not something we are happy with.”

As well as raw speed, Floury also noted that Ferrari had appeared to get on top of the tire wear issues that were one of its major weaknesses last year in the first season with the 499P.

This was seen in the early part of the race as both of the factory Ferraris triple-stinted their Michelin tires, while Toyota opted to change the right-side tires on both cars at the second stop and then changing the lefts at the next stop.

“I think we were a bit better than Porsche [in terms of tire wear] but Ferrari was quite strong on this side,” said Floury. “I think they were strong everywhere, except on strategy!

“Generally the tire degradation is something we try to optimize. The surprise was more that Ferrari seemed quite strong on this side. I don’t think Porsche were that dramatic either, but we were a bit better.

“We didn’t want to take risks at the start of the race, so we decided not to go for extending [the tires]. But clearly a triple stint on the right-hand side, I don’t think it’s something we could have achieved easily.”

Ferrari’s top finisher was fourth after the No. 50 car of Antonio Fuoco passed the second of the Toyotas, the No. 8 car of Brendon Hartley, at the start of the 205th and final lap of the race.

Hartley said post-race he felt there was little he could have done to keep Fuoco at bay, despite having had two off-track moments during his final stint on slick tires after the track dried again, as like Kobayashi he had aggressive fuel-saving targets to hit to make the finish without an additional stop.

“Fuoco was coming with 25 km/h more on the last lap,” said Hartley. “Maybe I could have done better, I already lifted the gas [into Tamburello], maybe I could have saved it somewhere else, but he was coming at me at one-and-a-half seconds a lap. I had traffic at the last corner [Rivazza 2] as well.

“It wasn’t my finest moment. But I think my stints weren’t bad, and I had to save a lot of energy at the end.”

The No. 8 car Hartley shared with Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa lost ground to the sister car in the early stages as Buemi was stuck behind the No. 20 BMW M Hybrid V8 before leapfrogging ahead during a round of pit stops in the second hour.

Floury said that Toyota did not want Buemi risking an off trying to clear the BMW, with passing opportunities few and far between.

“BMW had better top speed than us,” he explained. “I don’t want to talk about Ferrari, they are on another planet, but on our side we tried to get past. But on track it was not possible except if you take stupid risks.

“This is not something we want to do here. We are here to win the championship, and to win the championship you need to be consistent and make no mistakes.”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

Click to comment

More in FIA WEC