TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) dominated the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to earn a one-two victory in the 1000 Miles of Sebring in the face of strong Hypercar competition. The No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and José María López claimed a hard-fought victory after 239 laps at the home of endurance racing in the United States.
After an exciting race-long battle at the front, World Champions and 2022 Le Mans winners Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa completed a perfect result for (TGR) by finishing second in the No. 8 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar. Relentless consistency, flawless team operations and strong tyre management combined as TGR overcame the challenge of several new Hypercar rivals joining this year’s championship to lap all competitors twice and earn the team’s 40th WEC victory.
The team was immediately in the fight at the front when the green flags waved in Florida. Buemi set a new Hypercar race lap record as he and Conway edged clear of the competition. At the two-hour mark, little separated the GR010 HYBRIDs and their gap over the chasing pack was enough to keep them ahead through the first driver changes. As half distance approached, Kobayashi moved the No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar to the front and soon after, early in the fifth hour, he handed over to López. Hirakawa took the wheel of the second-placed No. 8 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar to resume an intra-team battle for victory, with the pair now a lap clear of the competition.
After Kobayashi and Buemi returned to their respective cockpits, the gap at the front began to grow during the seventh hour. As the sun set on Sebring, Conway ticked off the remaining laps without taking risks and Hartley reduced the gap steadily. Conway crossed the line in the No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar, just 2.168 secs ahead of Hartley to conquer the biggest-ever top-class grid for a WEC season-opener and earn maximum race points.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation and TGR Team Founder, “Congratulations and thank you to all the drivers and team members who finished this important first round with a one-two finish. Even if the car changes and the number of rivals increases, I once again feel that racing is a team effort. Since Kamui became Team Principal, the power of the team has definitely grown stronger. He contributes to victory as a driver, and as Team Principal keeps communication with the members and keeps the team together. Kamui, thank you very much. Let’s keep fighting to make the GR010 Hybrid Electric Vehicle an ‘ever-better car’!”
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established TGR, to consolidate all of its motorsport’s activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ TGR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of various motorsports events, TGR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.
This season, the GR010 HYBRID Electric Hypercar has undergone a series of evolutions in key areas. Adjustments have been made to the high-performance Racing Hybrid powertrain to reduce weight and enhance performance, which consists of a 520kW (707PS) 3.5 litre engine and 200kW (272PS) electric motor. Visible changes to the vehicle’s bodywork include dive plane aerodynamic devices on the front corners, a smaller rear-wing end plate, and revised headlight layout. New vents have also been added at the front and rear that allow for quick changes to cooling options during races.
The GR010 HYBRID Electric will continue to use 100% renewable biofuel fuel made mostly from agricultural materials and by-products, which will reduce CO2 emissions by at least 65% and contribute to ongoing efforts to ensure the sustainability of endurance racing.
The WEC championship resumes in Portugal in a month’s time with the 6 Hours of Portimao on 16 April, the second of seven races this season.