Toyota lost the blue riband endurance event two years running when victory looked within the Japanese manufacturer’s grasp; spectacularly with three minutes to go in 2016 due to a turbo problem, while a clutch failure and a front axle-motor robbed them of the ultimate prize in 2017.
“What we’ve changed really is the way we prepare Le Mans,” said Technical director Pascal Vasselon.
“We decide the radio fails, and we see how the driver and the team react. We cause fake problems”.
“We spent a lot more time dealing with unplanned situations, unplanned repairs, unplanned problems. We really took time for the team to put them in situations that are not normal, because this is where we failed. For example, we say we have suddenly broken the rear-right driveshaft.
Whilst the usual modus operandai in endurance testing is to push the car until components break, Toyota often survived 30-hours of testing with little problems, only for unknown issues to plague them during the 24 hour race.
“We have failed on problems that were unusual” says Vasselon. “The team has not handled perfectly these situations. Some of them were difficult to handle, but you can always do better.”
Whilst the likes of Porsche and Audi are no longer challenging Toyota this season, Vasselon believes the race itself will pose enough of a challenge.
“This year, we just go to fight Le Mans, not directly our competitors. That’s our challenge.”
Image: TOYOTA Gazoo Racing
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