WEC: Hard earned podium for Conway in Shanghai

11th November 2019

Mike Conway and his #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team took a hard-earned podium finish in the 4 Hours of Shanghai as it competed with the maximum success handicap to finish in 3rd place at round three.

Carrying the maximum success handicap of 2.74secs per lap for both Mike’s #7 TS050 and the sister #8 car, TOYOTA faced their biggest challenge from the non-hybrid LMP1 cars at the third race weekend of the 2019/20 FIA WEC season.

Getting the weekend underway on Friday, the challenge was apparent from start as Mike, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López finished the first two sessions of the weekend in 4th place as the non-hybrids of Ginetta and Rebellion Racing topped the timesheets.

Finishing the final practice session in 1st place, Mike and the team prepared for what would be TOYOTA’s most challenging fight for pole position in recent times. Kamui was at the wheel of the #7 for its first flying lap and set the fastest first sector of the session as he posted the car’s first timed lap of the session.

In order to have the best possible chance in Sunday’s race, Mike didn’t take fresh tyres for his qualifying attempt and completed a clean lap to take fourth place in the #7 TS050.

“We knew qualifying would be tough and fourth was as expected. Potentially we could have been a little quicker but we protected our tyres for the race. We didn’t have the ultimate pace but if anyone has any issues we need to be there to take advantage.”

At the start, Kamui made progress from fourth on the grid as he overtook the Rebellion and, briefly, the #5 Ginetta before the #7 stabilised in third. On lap 12, Kamui then slipped behind the sister #8 car as he fell back to 4th place.

Unfortunately, the #7 TS050 HYBRID, along with both Ginettas, were handed drive-through penalties for overtaking Rebellion #1 before the start-line on lap one, demoting Kamui to fifth.

At the first driver changes, José was running in the third-placed as he looked to close the 30-second gap to the Rebellion.

On lap 73, Mike took the wheel of the #7 in third and continued pushing to be ready should the leader lose time. But the #1 Rebellion suffered no further drama, meaning it took the chequered flag to win, with Mike bringing the #7 home in third, 70.783secs behind the sister #8 car.

“We tried as hard as we could but we lost time with the drive-through and then couldn’t close the gap to the sister car. It was quite a difficult race today so we are looking forward to a better weekend in Bahrain when hopefully things will turn around. All credit to Rebellion; they did a good job and got the win.”

Mike and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will fight to return to the centre of the podium in the fourth round of the season, and the only WEC race in the Middle East, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, on 14 December.

MB Partners Toyota Hybrid Racing Bell Prosperity Investment Management