Thrilling victory for Mike Conway and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in Imola

Mike Conway and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing returned to winning ways and conquered a dramatic 6 Hours of Imola after an incredible team effort in the second round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries took a tense victory in the #7 GR010 HYBRID in changing conditions thanks to faultless driving and intelligent strategy on a day of twists and turns among the 19-strong Hypercar field.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s first victory of the season closed the gap to Porsche to just nine points in the Manufacturers’ World Championship heading to round three at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 11 May. The #7 crew are now second in the drivers’ standings, 16 points behind the leaders.

Having started sixth, Mike showed his fighting spirit in the opening laps when he made a move for fifth. The team used smart strategy and pace around their perfectly-executed pit stops to gain positions as Mike moved into the top three before handing the #7 to Nyck at the first driver changes, around the two-hour mark.

Nyck put intense pressure on the leading Ferrari pair before rain and different strategies in the fourth hour threw the race wide open. Nyck made an opportunistic move to take second immediately following a full course yellow and moments later took the lead when the #51 Ferrari pitted, just prior to safety car.

Rain intensified during the safety car period, particularly in the final sector. When the green flags waved, the #7 GR010 HYBRID struggled for grip on the wet track and immediately pitted for wet tyres. It proved to be a masterstroke as they soon lapped significantly faster than their Hypercar rivals.

After most Hypercars also pitted for wet tyres, Kamui emerged into a lead of more than 20 seconds as the race entered its final 90 minutes.

With an hour remaining, Kamui made the team's penultimate pit stop and reverted to slick Michelin tyres. Other rivals pitted as well and Kamui returned to the front, leading a pair of Porsches, but with less fuel on board than their rivals, Kamui had to drive efficiently going into the final 30 minutes - setting up a tense showdown for victory.

Kamui fought valiantly to hold on to the lead under intense pressure to win in Italy for the second successive season, by 7.081secs from the #6 Porsche.

Mike Conway:

“It was really tense all the way to the end. Kamui did a great job at the end to stay ahead whilst saving energy. As always the pressure doesn’t affect him; I think my heart rate in the garage was higher than his in the car. Nyck did a stellar stint as well. At the start I stayed out of trouble and tried to move forwards. I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed my first time racing here. The crew did a great job in the pits and the strategy couldn’t have been any better. Congratulations to the whole team and everyone at Toyota.”

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