Mike Conway and his #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing teammates saw their victory hopes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans dashed through no fault of their own, as their GR010 HYBRID was hit from behind, causing terminal damage and forcing them to retire during the eighth hour.
The centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans saw a record 16-car Hypercar field featuring competitors from Cadillac, Ferrari, Peugeot and Porsche. A sell-out 325,000 crowd saw Mike and his #7 team line up in fifth place and Mike was behind the wheel when the flag dropped for the start of the race.
Mike immediately was on the front foot as he began fighting for the podium positions from fifth on the grid. Two rain showers added to the drama and positions changed as frequently, with Mike and the team staying in contention during the first third of the race.
At that point, the #7 found themselves in the battle for victory as they occupied second. However, in the eighth hour, their race ended at Tertre Rouge. Approaching a slow zone, where a maximum 80km/h speed applies and overtaking is forbidden, Kamui slowed to avoid passing another car and was hit from behind by two lapped cars. The impact caused driveshaft, tyre and bodywork damage meaning the car could not return to the pits.
With double points on offer at the race, the result means that Mike now slips down to 5th in the Drivers' Championship on 66 points, with his Toyota GAZOO Racing team remaining in the lead of the manufacturers' standings with an 18-point advantage over Ferrari, with three races remaining. The next race, the 6 Hours of Monza, takes place in four weeks, on 9 July.
Speaking after the race, Mike said:“Car #8 drove a great race, they gave 100% and that’s all you can ask for. Thanks to the whole team for doing a stellar job all week. Unfortunately, it was a short race for our car. We were hanging in there in the difficult conditions, we didn’t make any mistakes and stayed in the fight. Maybe we were not the quickest, but we were doing our job. It’s a pity we got taken out in those circumstances but there were so many incidents in those slow zones. That’s just the way it went for us here, sadly. It’s a dent in the World Championship chances but we will try to win some races before the season ends. We move on to the next race.”