Toyota name returns to La Sarthe
Are you as excited as I am? The 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place this weekend. What makes it even more exciting is that Toyota is once again making an appearance, after being absent for 12 years, at the legendary La Sarthe circuit in France.
Toyota provides engines for the Swiss REBELLION Racing team for the 2011 season through Toyota Motorsports GbmH (TMG) based in Cologne, Germany. REBELLION is running two Lola-Toyota LMP1 racers in the Le Mans Series in Europe as well as the big race this weekend.
The engine unit supplied by TMG is a 3.4-litre V8 power plant, putting out over 500 horsepower. It’s really got some oomph!
At the first round of this year’s Le Mans Series, held at Le Castellet in France in April, driver Neel Jani secured pole position for the six hour race. The team went on to finish on the podium when drivers Jean-Christophe Bouillon and Andrea Belicchi crossed the finish line in second place.
Jani once again took the spotlight during the qualifying session for this weekend’s race. His Lola-Toyota #12 racer took pole position for petrol-powered cars with a lap time of 3’32”883. He will start eighth on the grid overall for the race. Andrea Belicchi’s car #13 managed 10th overall despite being stuck behind traffic while setting his qualifying times.
Best of luck to REBELLION Racing this weekend!
Update 11/06/2011 18:02: Three hours down at the race, car #12 is still leading the petrol classifications, seventh overall. Car #13 is currently ninth overall, third of the petrol runners.
Update 11/06/2011 22:41: Three cars fighting for the LMP petrol lead, including #12 and #13.
Update 12/06/2011 10:54: Less than half distance to go, car #13′s race is over after a crash. #12 is sixth overall and fighting for the petrol lead.
Update 12/06/2011 13:15: Brief rain showers mixing things up earlier. REBELLION #12 is now leading the petrol cars!
Update 12/06/2011 15:43: After 355 laps and 4,838 km, REBELLION Racing #12 wins petrol race!
What an exciting race weekend. Watch this space in two weeks time when we bring you the 24 Hour of Nürburgring.