TOYOTA GAZOO Racing back in Brazil

TOKYO, July 5, 2024 – (JCN Newswire via – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing resumes its challenge for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) titles when the second half of the 2024 season begins in Brazil with the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo on 14 July.

A remarkable Le Mans 24 Hours last month saw the team narrowly miss out on victory after an enthralling race, but the points earned rekindled its bid to retain the World Championship crowns for a sixth season and it travels to South America just 12 points behind leaders Porsche.

Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries finished second at Le Mans alongside José María López – substituting for Mike Conway – and they are also in the title hunt, 17 points behind the leaders with four races still to go. Mike has recovered from the rib and collarbone injuries sustained in a pre-Le Mans cycling accident and will return to the cockpit of the #7 GR010 HYBRID car at Interlagos, alongside Kamui and Nyck.

Reigning World Champions Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa led more laps at Le Mans than any other car but were denied a chance to fight for victory when another car pushed the #8 GR010 HYBRID into a spin late in the race. They finished fifth.Both cars will push to return to winning ways in Sao Paulo on a circuit which has seen significant milestones in the team’s history. Toyota’s first hybrid-powered WEC victory came at Interlagos in 2012, just three races into its endurance racing return, while a first manufacturers’ title was secured in Sao Paolo two years later.

The anti-clockwise 4.309km circuit, officially named the Autodromo José Carlos Pace after the Sao Paolo-born former Le Mans and Formula 1 driver, is back on the WEC calendar after a 10-year absence. The historic track was opened in 1940 and became a fixture on international motorsport calendars since the 1970s.

Although the first WEC race at Interlagos took place as recently as 2012, the circuit has hosted the Mil Milhas Brasil, or 1000 Miles of Brazil, endurance race since the 1950s, including as a round of the 2007 Le Mans Series, a precursor to today’s World Championship.Track action begins on Friday 12 July with two 90-minute free practice sessions. The starting grid will be decided on Saturday from 3.10pm local time (8.10pm CEST) with qualifying and Hyperpole while the race begins at 11.30am (4.30pm CEST) on Sunday 14 July.

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car #7):

“Le Mans was not long ago but right after the race we started looking towards the future. The second half of our season begins in Sao Paulo and now our full focus is on fighting for the World Championships. Our second place in Le Mans puts us in a better position, even though we still face a big challenge to close the gap. We haven’t driven our GR010 HYBRID at Interlagos before so we don’t know exactly what to expect but I am sure it will be a big fight. I remember the Brazilian fans are very enthusiastic and I think they will create a special atmosphere; I’m looking forward to it.”

Mike Conway (Driver, car #7):

“It’s great to be back and I can’t wait to be behind the wheel again. Watching Le Mans from a distance was tough for me. I went through all the ups and downs with Kamui, Nyck and José but it was incredibly frustrating that I could not be part of it. I always knew we were in safe hands with José, and he did a great job. Now I am just looking forward to competing again, fighting at the front and hopefully helping Kamui, Nyck and the team win the World Championship.”

Nyck de Vries (Driver, car #7):

“This will be my first time racing at Interlagos but I have raced in Brazil before and I know the fans there are incredibly enthusiastic. They have a long motorsport tradition and it’s fun to be part of that as a driver. Interlagos is a short circuit which is quite demanding, and it will be interesting to drive our GR010 HYBRID there. We’re all looking forward to being part of another exciting battle at the front, and hopefully standing on the podium again.”

Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car #8):

“It’s a long time since we raced at Interlagos but I have some nice memories of the circuit, and the team has performed well there in the past. Even though we go there with our GR010 HYBRID for the first time, we know what is required to be quick at this track. As always, the competition will be very intense, so we need to start the event on the front foot and execute a perfect weekend. We’ll do the maximum and let’s see what we can achieve.”

Brendon Hartley (Driver, car #8):

“I am happy to be racing again relatively soon after Le Mans. We enjoyed being part of the fight for victory at Le Mans, but it was frustrating to miss out in the way we did, so it’s good to resume battle just a few weeks later. It will again be incredibly tough, with very tight margins, but we are energised and ready for it. WEC has been away from Sao Paulo for a decade, and I think we’ll get a great welcome from the fans. I am sure we will put on another exciting show.”

Ryo Hirakawa (Driver, car #8):

“Sao Paulo is a new city and a new circuit for me, and I am excited by the challenge. I have driven the track in the simulator, so I know what to expect but there’s nothing like driving it in real life. It’s such a famous circuit in the motorsport world, with so many memories, and the unbelievable support of the Brazilian fans. Since the calendar was announced I have been looking forward to experiencing it for myself and now I can’t wait.”

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