Jose Maria Lopez has described Toyota’s 1-2 end on the Sebring 1000 Miles as a “essential” end result because it makes an attempt to protect its International Staying power Championship crown towards rising pageant within the hypercar elegance.
López, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway received the hole spherical of the 2023 WEC season within the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, main the sister #8 automobile made by means of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa by means of simply over two seconds .
The #7 Toyota moved to the entrance across the midway level of the race when the Kobayashi sister was once overtaken by means of the #8 automobile that had led the order after Ferrari went off-strategy within the first hour.
No different automobile within the 11-car hypercar elegance completed any place close to the main Toyotas, with the Ferrari 499P of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Niklas Nielsen in 3rd position after being passed two separate consequences two laps down, proper. For no longer respecting restart procedures.
The importance of Toyota’s end result was once no longer misplaced on López, who lauded the Eastern marque for keeping up its merit within the rising hypercar elegance at the beginning of a brand new golden generation of sportscar racing.
“To start with congratulations to everybody right here and to the staff, my team-mates did a perfect task,” Lopez mentioned.
“Very difficult for myself, I have not been just right sufficient to those two guys (Kobayashi and Conway) right here in the previous few races. However I have not stopped believing.
“We had the automobile (to win). It was once no longer simple to get into the rhythm within the first laps, to get the boldness again, however the automobile was once operating smartly. It was once no longer simple however we had a just right automobile and this automobile # There’s a large pageant with 8 and Ferrari.
“The game has modified, that is nice. We’re proud to be a part of this contemporary generation of staying power racing.
“Pleased with the staff, we had a perfect race, mechanics and engineers, we made just right pitstops, there have been no issues of the automobiles, and it gave us a just right hole.
“This 1-2 is essential for us, the staff, it provides us just right issues. Lengthy season forward however it is great to start out like this.
#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Niklas Nielsen
Photograph by means of: JEP / Motorsport Pictures
Toyota confronted little pageant from the key producers in the previous few years of the WEC, however the creation of the LMH and LMDH rules has introduced much-needed existence again into the highest elegance, with Ferrari, Porsche, Cadillac and the manufacturing unit entries are integrated. Peugeot – in addition to further automobiles from smaller competitors Glkenhaus and Vanwall.
Kobayashi, who combines riding tasks with a staff major function at Toyota, feels the higher pageant has introduced the ‘wow’ issue again into the WEC and is assured the collection will develop much more in stature subsequent 12 months, when BMW , Lamborghini and Alpine sign up for the highest elegance.
“To start with, when I used to be at the beginning grid, I felt ‘wow’, without a doubt greater than final 12 months, that is transparent,” he mentioned. “With the ambience, folks get extra excited, and whilst you see Ferrari racing within the most sensible elegance, it is a utterly other international.
“I am without a doubt taking a look ahead to the a hundredth anniversary of Le Mans, it’ll be truly massive. I already felt it prior to the race, and I believe the momentum will select up at some point.
“I am truly glad for this center of attention at the WEC typically, some constructors have come for 2023 however there are extra constructors coming in 2024. We without a doubt have a perfect long term forward.
“However we’re nonetheless preventing and we’re nonetheless aggressive as Toyota Gazoo Racing, that is an success by means of (folks in) Japan. I believe all of the Toyota Gazoo Racing circle of relatives has executed a perfect choose for us. It has executed a perfect task.
Hartley admitted that he was once upset to lose out on victory within the 8 Hours of Sebring race, however felt that the two-second end margin between the 2 automobiles confirmed how intently matched the Toyotas had been all the way through the early phases of the season.
“It is an excellent end result for the entire staff and I am extremely glad for everybody who has labored laborious for this,” mentioned the Kiwi.
“I am additionally just a little upset with the #8 automobile completing moment as it was once this sort of shut race, and we put so much into it. We had been just a little unfortunate however congrats to the #7 team for the win.
“After all there was once most effective two seconds between the 2 automobiles after this sort of difficult race which displays what a perfect task the staff has executed right here.”