Toyota must win the race in front of Fuji for WEC title hopes

Toyota must win the race in front of Fuji for WEC title hopes


Following their victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, Hirakawa and his team-mates in the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley, are second in the drivers’ standings with only the Bahrain season finale coming after this weekend’s first Fuji. Competition from 2019.

They trail the Alpine trio of Nicolas Lapierre, Mathieu Vaxiviers and Andre Negro by 10 points, who took their second win of the season at Monza last July.

The No. 7 Toyota crew of Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi are 30 points adrift in the final two events of the 65 season remaining on the table.

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Hirakawa and his team-mates entered the championship in the #8 car, finishing second to Alpine last time out at Monza, just 2.7 seconds short of victory.

The Japanese driver told Motorsport.com that despite the extra points on offer at Bahrain, he and his team-mates can’t afford to lose more ground at Fuji, a track he believes suits Alpine’s grand LMP1 car better than Toyota.

“For the championship, we have to beat ourselves to give ourselves a chance in Bahrain,” Hirakawa said. “If we finish behind Alpine it will be difficult.

“At least we have to be in the lead, but we will definitely try everything to win.

“It’s not going to be easy, and it’s the first time to ride the GR010 Hybrid at Fuji, so although we’re working on the simulator and feeling good preparation, we don’t know how competitive we’ll be until then. The first free practice.

“I don’t want to expect too much, but I hope the car does better than it did at Monza.”

Toyota Must Win The Race In Front Of Fuji For

Hirakawa added that Peugeot could prove to be a thorn in Toyota’s side as the French marque makes its second appearance of the year after its Monza debut.

He said of the two new 9X8s: “Already at Monza, they were very fast in terms of lap times, they had a lot of issues. “I’m sure they’ll be quick at Fuji too.

It makes it more difficult for us, because if they have the same speed as us in the race, it will be difficult to get points, and we cannot lose any more points.

For the first time this year, Hirakawa will race the GR010 Hybrid at a track he knows intimately, having already raced three times in Super Formula this year at Fuji.

“The track has changed quite a bit since then. [the last WEC race at Fuji in 2019] In terms of the track surface and also if it rains, it’s important to know where the grip is, and I know that,” Hirakawa said.

“For sure, having done a lot of races in Fuji is helpful and I’m sure, but it’s still the first time for the GR010 hybrid. [at the track]So I still have to adapt in many ways.

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