TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, the motorsports division of Toyota, was triumphant at two very different racing events around the globe over the weekend, winning both the Wales Rally of Great Britain and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) round at Fuji Speedway in Japan.
The two victories were also notable for the cars involved – the Toyota Yaris WRC of Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja dominating in the wet gravel of Wales, and the two LMP1 Toyota TS050 HYBRIDS taking both first and second at Fuji’s six hour race.
The #8 TS050 HYBRID driven by New Zealander Brendon Hartley, Sébastien Buemi, and Kazuki Nakajima earned victory from pole position. It was the seventh win in eight years for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at the Fuji WEC event. The result marked Sébastien’s 16th outright WEC victory, while Brendon Hartley stood on the top of the podium for the first time as a TOYOTA GAZOO Racing driver.
Brendon Hartley said, “It was a really nice feeling to take my first victory with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. It’s the last time we get to race the TS050 HYBRID at Fuji so to win was great. We had a pretty clean race and Kazuki did an amazing job on the intermediate tyres. We had the advantage over the #7 car with a successful handicap today but that will not be the case in Shanghai when we can expect a very close race.”
Driving the #7 Toyota Hybrid, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López finished second, leaving both car crews tied on the same points in the lead of the World Championship. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing leads the teams’ standings by 35 points from Rebellion.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, in Wales, the Toyota Yaris WRC led the Rally of Great Britain, from start to finish. Tänak and Toyota teammate Kris Meeke battled it out for the lead in the extremely wet and muddy conditions. Meeke set the early pace before Tänak took over the lead. On the final day, Meeke made sure of his fourth place, clinching important points for the team.
Team Chairman Akio Toyoda said, “Toyota GAZOO Racing won two FIA World Championship events (WEC and WRC) on the same weekend. In heavy wind and rain and extreme road conditions, I am happy to see Ott and Martin win Rally GB. For the last two WRC events of the season, I hope for more victories and finally for their championships.”
Ott Tänak said it was an amazing feeling to win. “There’s a lot of people working behind us and with the effort they put it, it’s great to be rewarded like this with maximum points. On the Power Stage, I had full confidence in the car, and I had to take the opportunity, as every point can be crucial.
“Our team slogan is ‘pushing the limits for better’ and I always try to do my best. We have two more rallies to come this season and certainly nothing is decided yet, so we need to keep pushing and keep focused.”
The penultimate round of the WRC will be the Rally de España (October 25-27), the only WRC round run on both gravel and tarmac.
Following the WEC team’s second one-two finish of the season, the success handicap on both cars will be increased for the next race, the 4 Hours of Shanghai on 10 November, although the lap time penalty will be identical for each car as both TS050 HYBRIDS have the same number of World Championship points.