Toyota Gazoo Racing clinched a hard-earned double podium finish in the 4 Hours of Shanghai on Sunday (10 November) as their seven-race winning streak came to an end in the third round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship
Victory eluded the team as their cars competed with maximum success handicap, the result of having won both the opening rounds of the season. This made their rival non-hybrid cars in the championship’s LMP1 class more competitive, but a patient race and efficient pit stops helped the Toyotas secure second and third places behind the No1 Rebellion car.
Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley in the No8 TS050 Hybrid gained a three-point lead in the drivers’ championship by finishing second, ahead of their team-mates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López who finished third in the No7 Toyota. In the teams’ championship, Toyota Gazoo Racing have now a 27-point advantage over their nearest challengers.
In the early stages, Kobayashi held third in the No7 car ahead of Buemi before the Swiss driver moved ahead on lap 12. The first pit stops for fuel came after 45 minutes, with prompt work by the Toyota crew getting their cars back on the track 10 seconds faster than the rival Ginetta team. This gave Buemi the opportunity to leapfrog the No5 Ginetta to take second place and subsequently the race lead, which he held until the Rebellion car, running on new tyres, was able to pass on lap 40. Kobayashi and the two Ginetta drivers were handed a drive-through penalty for a start-line infringement which led to the No7 Toyota falling back to fifth place.
At the first driver change around the 90-minute mark, Hartley took over the No8 Toyota in second place, around 30 seconds behind the race leader, with López a similar distance behind in third. The positions remained stable at half-distance as the drivers battled severe tyre wear and heavy traffic. The final driver change brought Nakajima and Conway into the action, but neither was able to improve their position before the chequered flag.
The focus now switches to the fourth round of the season, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, which will take place on 14 December.
1st No1 Rebellion (Senna/Menezes/Nato) 125 laps
2nd No8 Toyota Gazoo Racing (Buemi/Nakajima/Hartley) +1min 6.984secs
3rd No7 Toyota Gazoo Racing (Conway/Kobayashi/López) +1 lap
4th No5 Ginetta (King/Hanley/Orudzhev) +1 lap
5th No6 Ginetta (Robertson/Simpson/Smith) +2 laps
6th No38 JOTA (Gonzalez/Da Costa/Davidson) +4 laps