TOYOTA Racing fans were rewarded with the best possible Easter treat, as the team finished in first and second places in the opening round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship.
In their first event, the two TS040 HYBRIDs performed impeccably in difficult conditions, with the #8 car of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi taking the chequered flag ahead of sister car #7, of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima.
The Six Hours of Silverstone couldn’t have started better for the team with a pole position for car #7 in qualifying. But however happy everyone was with Saturday’s performance the focus lay on Sunday’s race.
Leading the field away at the start was Wurz in car #7 who made a great getaway, with teammate Buemi in car #8 fighting his way from fifth to third position in an exciting first lap.
As the race settled down the rain began to fall, and 40 minutes into the race the TOYOTA Racing team called their cars in to the pits to fit tyres for the deteriorating conditions. In what would prove to be a race winning decision car #7 fitted wet tyres, and car #8 hybrid intermediates.
The latter proved to be the perfect choice for the changeable track surface, and Buemi roared further ahead in the four-wheel-drive TS040 HYBRID.
Behind him, Wurz struggled with a lack of grip on his wet tyres, but he kept his focus to the 90-minute mark to change over with Nakajima who then put on some dry tyres.
As conditions remained dry, Lapierre in car #8 established a dominant lead and had the reassurance of knowing that in second position was his teammate Nakajima, in car #7.
As other cars succumbed to the conditions and spun off or retired with mechanical issues, the two TS040 HYBRIDs circulated Silverstone with precision and confidence. And with an hour left of the race, the typical British bank holiday rain returned, forcing both TOYOTA Racing cars to the pits for wet weather tyres.
This time, though, the rain proved to be too heavy for the race organisers, and with 40 minutes remaining and the safety car circulating, the race was brought to a safe conclusion with a red flag.
With Anthony Davidson at the wheel it was a sensational win for TOYOTA Racing, and its second consecutive victory following its triumph in the 2013 season finale in Bahrain.
On what was the sixth win from 15 WEC races for TOYOTA Racing, team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said: “That was the perfect start to the season and I would like thank everyone on the team for achieving this one-two victory for TOYOTA Racing.”
With a skip in their step the team take on the next challenge in this year’s World Endurance Championship at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium on 3rd May.
Let’s all hope this win is the first of many for the team this year…