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WET AND WILD IN TEXAS FOR TOYOTA RACING

Round 4 of the World Endurance Championship

A torrential rainstorm early on turned the race upside down for the TOYOTA Racing team at the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas.

Disappointment for TOYOTA Racing

The fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship had promised so much more, but the team had to settle for a podium finish with the #8 TS040 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi leaving Texas holding a 11-point lead in the drivers’ standings.

The #7 of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and TOYOTA Racing debutant Mike Conway took sixth place, meaning the team fell to second place in the manufacturers’ World Championship, 16 points behind Audi at the halfway point in the season.

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Rain stops play

The race couldn’t have begun any better for the team, with both 1,000 PS, four-wheel-drive TS040 HYBRIDs leading the pack: Buemi developed a substantial lead from pole position, and Wurz manoeuvred the #7 up to second place from a fifth on the grid.

With nearly an hour gone, both cars made a driver change and Lapierre and Conway began setting a rhythm behind the wheel. But then the weather changed: a heavy rainstorm made conditions impossible for both drivers and on slick tyres they aquaplaned off the track, with the #8 getting stuck in the gravel.

Several cars suffered similar fates, so the red flag was waved to temporarily stop the race in the interests of safety.

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The fight back

In the chaotic scenes just prior to the stoppage both TOYOTA Racing cars lost a lap and, after a delay of nearly an hour, the race resumed and Lapierre, with hybrid intermediate tyres fitted, determined to fight his way back into podium contention.

As night fell the positions settled down and the next round of pit stops came; Davidson in the #8 was doggedly drawing in the third place car ahead, while Sarrazin fought from sixth, both cars enjoying the grip that came from new slick tyres.

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Following a string of quick laps, including the fastest of the race, Buemi in the #8 took the chequered flag with a fine third place, while Wurz came in an equally creditable sixth.

Anthony Davidson reflected on a frustrating race: “Looking on the bright side, which you have to do when the result doesn’t go your way, the good news is we had the fastest car. We should have won, that was clear. We can only look forward and make sure we win as many races as we can from here on in.”

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TOYOTA Racing will attempt to return to winning ways at its home event, the 6 Hours of Fuji on 12 October and will head to Japan aiming for a third consecutive victory at the historic track.

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