It’s race week at Le Mans, and in the LMP1 class, there’s plenty of question marks. Toyota is gunning for its first ever win, and on the face of it, looks set to achieve its target convincingly should at least one of its cars have a clean race.
The Equivalence of Technology rules in LMP1 is such that Toyota will be able to pit later in each stint, and fuel up quicker, so even in the performance levels are equal, by regulation, the Privateer LMP1s will not be able to keep up as the race wears on.
Because of this, there’s a level of confidence in the Toyota camp, but the pressure is still on. Toyota has only had two cars run a clean race in the hybrid era at Le Mans, and it’s that stat that will keep the privateer runners motivated. It’s cliche, but anything can happen.
With that in mind, DSC spoke Mike Conway driver of the #7, who feels that the privateers shouldn’t be underestimated at this stage.
“This year feels different,” he said. “There’s no manufacturers with us, but the competition we have is very good, I think Rebellion and SMP look very good. I don’t think they showed everything at the Test either so it could be interesting, it should be tight. We’re not going to worry about the competition too much, as we need to concentrate on running our own race.”
We’re not going to worry about the competition too much, as we need to concentrate on running our own race
He did, however, acknowledge that should Toyota have a clean race, the privateers will fall away due to the EoT restrictions.
“Yeah, (they may struggle after the opening stint of the race) as they are doing 10 laps per stint whereas we’re doing 11, and they’ll have to spend longer in the pits, so they will miss out there too,” he explained. “But if they make it back up on the track you don’t know?
“They can be a threat for Pole certainly, from what we saw (at the Test) from Rebellion, they’re great through Sectors 1 and 3. I expected them, to be fast as they can run a lot of downforce than we can.
“They look pretty close.”
Aside from being a big week in racing terms, it’s a big week for the sport in shaping its future, the ACO set to announce the 2020 and 2024 regulations for the top class on Friday as part of its annual Le Mans press conference.
Conway feels that Toyota is interested in continuing its programme beyond the 2019/20 FIA WEC season, the Britian eager to learn more about what we can expect from the top-end in the years to come.
“GTP in the future sounds pretty exciting,” he said. “It sounds like there’s quite a few manufacturers that will want to be involved. It’ll be a different era, back to the 1990s kind of look. It should be cars that look like road cars but underneath are still race cars. It could be pretty cool.
GTP in the future sounds pretty exciting
“Yeah (Toyota is likely to continue). Toyota has been involved in talks from the beginning. It’s quite far away, but there’s interest there.”
Featured image courtesy of Toyota