Toyota TS050 - Hybrid No.7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing - 3rd 24H Le Mans 2020 M. Conway - K. Kobayashi - J. M. López
The #7 Toyota TS050 has never been lucky at Le Mans. Since Toyota's golden era in LMP1, they have come close to winning the world's most famous 24-hour race on several occasions, but in the end it was never them, but the No. 8 Toyota that took the honours. It was no different in 2020, where they again came within an arm's length of victory, but in the end they were even lucky to finish third, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
2020 was the swan song of the LMP1 category. It was the last year we would see these great prototype cars racing at Le Mans. A total of five LMP1 cars - two Toyotas, two Rebellions and a CLM P1/01 - entered the French event. WEC fans probably didn't have their hands full as to who would win, as the only way the Rebellions could have had a say in the battle of the Toyotas was if the Japanese were hampered by technical faults, while the ByKolles Racing car was, to put it nicely, just a field of the yet-to-be-run.
The trio of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, José María López had plenty to redeem themselves against the other Toyota in the number seven TS050. The trio were also motivated by the fact that a possible win would not only clinch a long-awaited trophy, but also a big step towards their WEC championship title. Accordingly, they took the time trial with confidence and were further boosted by the fact that the No. 1 Rebellion was sandwiched between them and the other Toyota. After the start, they managed to hold on to their lead and confidently led the race and nothing seemed to stand in their way this time. But 24 hours is a long time and the devil of technology never sleeps. At 2:35 in the morning, trouble struck. Kobayashi signalled that there was a problem with the car and soon afterwards it showed in the lap times. The broken Toyota was called into the pits and had to be repaired for half an hour - an awful long time even for such a long-distance race - before he could return to the race. In that time, not only did first place, but even the podium seemed to be slipping away. But the other great truth about a 24-hour race is that anything can happen. One of the Rebellions was also unlucky, having also wasted a lot of time in the pits due to a technical fault, so Conway at least managed to snatch third place.
The win didn't come this time either, but that third place was gold for the trio, so to speak, as they became the champions of the 2019-2020 WEC round with their win in Bahrain. Sadly, this LMP1 car will never again challenge the others for victory at Le Mans, but its memory will live on forever thanks to, for example, this superb 1:43 scale Spark model car.
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