Mike Conway and his #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team earned another podium finish in the six-hour Lone Star Le Mans race in Austin, Texas, to maintain his championship lead in the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship standings.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 TS050 HYBRID, had no realistic chance to challenge their LMP1 rivals due to their maximum success handicap but completed a consistent race to earn third place and preserve a five-point lead in the World Championship.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s lead in the teams’ standings has been reduced to 33 points over Rebellion Racing, with three races remaining this season.
World championship leaders Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 TS050 HYBRID, battling against maximum success handicap, set the second-fastest average time in qualifying, earning a front-row starting spot, 1.631secs behind the pole position-winning Rebellion #1.
The race began under grey skies and with a strong wind, with José lining the #7 up in second at the rolling start, one place ahead of the sister #8 TS050, although the pair swapped positions on the opening lap as the effect of the different success handicaps became instantly apparent.
Mike took over driving duties for the #7 at the 90-minute mark but was unable to mount any real challenge to the sister #8 car or the leading #1 Rebellion. Soon after half distance, Kamui took the wheel of the third-placed #7 as the pattern of the race continued largely as before.
José took the chequered flag completing the podium in third place but two laps adrift from the sister #8 car.
“It was a tough race and throughout my stint it was difficult to set competitive times because we were effectively in a race on our own. I had some hope at the beginning because José was not that far from car #8 but then the gap got bigger and bigger. We can only keep fighting to get the best results available to us for the championship; we are still in the lead so that is a consolation.”
The two TS050 HYBRIDs will stay in the US prior to the next round of the season, the 1000 Miles of Sebring in Florida on 20 March, the final flyaway race before WEC returns to Europe for the historic races at Spa and Le Mans.