Change in regs deals initial blow to Toyota title challenge

posted in: Homepage, LMP1, Standings | 0

An appar­ent­ly minor change in sport­ing reg­u­la­tions for the FIA World Endurance Cham­pi­onship has dealt a major blow to Toyota’s quest for the FIA WEC man­u­fac­tur­ers’ title and will put both the Japan­ese con­struc­tor and Porsche on their toes through­out the sea­son.

The #7 Toy­ota TS050 of Mike Con­way, Kamui Kobayashi and José María Lopez was heav­i­ly delayed dur­ing the six-hour race, with the car suf­fer­ing prob­lems with its anti-roll bar in the ear­ly stages before Lopez, mak­ing his debut for the Japan­ese man­u­fac­tur­er, was caught on the wrong tyres in a rain showed and careered into the wall at Copse. Despite evi­dent­ly being in pain, the Argen­tin­ian brought the strick­en LMP1 car back to the pits for repairs, caus­ing it to fall behind almost the entire field. Due to the delays, the car fin­ished 23rd over­all and fourth in the LMP1 class.

Under last season’s rules, the car would have been award­ed ten points in the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ cham­pi­onship for the fourth-placed fin­ish. How­ev­er, a small change in the sport­ing reg­u­la­tions means that man­u­fac­tur­er points are no longer award­ed accord­ing to fin­ish­ing posi­tions in LMP1 – in fact, the over­all LMP clas­si­fi­ca­tion is what counts. As a result, Toy­ota only gath­ered 26.5 points last week­end: 25 + 1 for the #8 car’s vic­to­ry and pole posi­tion, and 0.5 points for the #7 car’s 13th-place fin­ish in the LMP1 and LMP2 clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

By way of com­par­i­son, at last year’s Six Hours of Spa-Fran­cor­champs the #5 Toy­ota TS050 suf­fered engine issues in the lat­ter stages while lead­ing the race and was unable to take any fur­ther part. How­ev­er, as it had com­plet­ed the min­i­mum dis­tance required to score points, the team inge­nious­ly sent Kazu­ki Naka­ji­ma out on the final lap of the race to com­plete a six-minute tour using hybrid pow­er only. This ensured that the #5 car took the che­quered flag and scored ten points (as the fourth works LMP1 car to cross the line) in the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ cham­pi­onship – even though it crossed the line as the 17th pro­to­type, behind both Rebel­lion Rac­ing cars and the ByKolles entry in LMP1 and the entire LMP2 field.

This change in reg­u­la­tions could have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the cham­pi­onship mov­ing through the sea­son and will pun­ish teams and cars much more heav­i­ly if they suf­fer any issues, espe­cial­ly the gap between LMP1 and LMP2 has become much clos­er. Indeed, under last season’s rules Toy­ota would be lead­ing the cham­pi­onship at the cur­rent time instead of Porsche.

Vis­it the stand­ings sec­tion for a full run­down of the cham­pi­onship stand­ings.

Images © WEC-Mag­a­zin