17 October 2016
HOME WIN FOR TOYOTA IN THE WEC
Toyota Gazoo Racing earned its first victory of the season on home ground in an epic 6 Hours of Fuji, the seventh round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The #6 TS050 Hybrid of Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi came out on top by just 1.439 seconds after an enthralling battle.
Toyota's 11th WEC win and its fourth in five years at Fuji lifted the #6 crew to second in the drivers' World Championship and just 23 points off the lead.
Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima recorded their best result of a troubled season with fourth, within a minute of the winning sister car.
In a tense and closely fought race in front of an enthusiastic Japanese crowd, the three LMP1 manufacturers ran flat-out for victory in a tense contest.
As the four-hour mark approached, less than two seconds covered the top three while the #5 was less than 30 seconds from the lead in fourth.
Sarrazin enjoyed an exciting stint with wheel-to-wheel battles against the #8 Audi and #1 Porsche, all while coping with heavy traffic.
When Kobayashi took over the #6 with just over 90 minutes remaining, he kept up the challenge, valiantly defending second place before targeting the leader.
The final stop saw the #6 take only fuel, saving vital time and earning track position but requiring Kobayashi to maintain the pace on older tyres.
He rose to the challenge during the tense final laps, with fine driving through the traffic. He crossed the line to win his first WEC race while Davidson brought home the #5 car.
Toyota Gazoo Racing will return to action next month with the penultimate race of the 2016 season, the 6 Hours of Shanghai on November 6.
Team president Toshio Sato said everyone in the team performed to the maximum against close competition.
"It was a clean fight, decided by speed on track and in the pits as well as strategy," Mr Sato said.
Kobayashi said the team felt positive after qualifying and did everything to get a win in its home race.
"The double stint at the end was a risk but we were only focused on the victory and now this feels great, just perfect," he said.
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Toyota on the way to victory in the Japan round of the WEC.