Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi celebrated victory at the 4 Hours of Silverstone World Endurance Championship race. In a spectacle watched by thousands of fans, the number seven car clinched victory at the season opener with a two second lead over its sister car, the number eight Toyota piloted by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and team newcomer Brendon Hartley.Following victory at Silverstone, the number seven drivers join the likes of Tazio Nuvolari, Graham Hill and Sir Stirling Moss as winners of the Club’s prestigious Tourist Trophy.
It was by no means plain sailing for Toyota, as a dry and sunny start gave way to showers and tricky conditions for most of the race. Despite being among the last cars to change to wet weather tyres, Toyota managed to claw back their one-two lead after late pit-stops, despite a strong performance by their Rebellion Racing rivals who finished third.
The two Toyota swapped the lead multiple times throughout the race until the number seven car held on to first after Kobayashi overtook Hartley just before the halfway point.
Mike Conway of Toyota Gazoo Racing said: ‘I have been trying to win the Tourist Trophy for quite a few years and it’s now great to join some of the great names that have won it – it’s really cool’.
The Toyota win comes after heartbreak last year when both of the team’s cars were disqualified due to their skid blocks deflecting during a load test, which handed victory to Rebellion Racing.
The Toyota team have picked up where they left off after their win at the final race of the previous Super Season at Le Mans in June and an overall World Endurance Championship title win. Unlike last year’s season, this year’s Championship will feature eight races culminating with the 24 hours of Le Mans.
The Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy was first awarded in 1905. The winner of that race was John Napier driving an 18 hp Arrol-Johnston in a race covering four laps of a fearsome 52-mile open road loop around the Isle of Man. His average speed was 34 mph.
The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) offers a multitude of opportunities to engineers, teams, manufacturers and drivers to compete in a high profile and prestigious calendar of events, based around the showcase of the sport worldwide – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Much of the prestige of the Tourist Trophy is embodied in its relevance. Even in 1905 the emphasis was not purely on speed but also on fuel economy, making it an enormous challenge on all fronts to the teams and drivers taking part and it remains so to this day.
1 Conway / Kobayashi / Lopez – Toyota Gazoo Racing – 129 laps – 4h 00m 57.709s
2 Buemi / Nakajima / Hartley – Toyota Gazoo Racing -129 laps (+1.901s)
3 Berthon / Derani/ Duval – Rebellion Racing – 128 laps
The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 and its distinguished history mirrors that of motoring itself. In 1907, the Club was awarded its Royal title by King Edward VII, sealing the Club’s status as Britain’s oldest and most influential motoring organisation.
The Club’s early years were focused on promoting the motor car and its place in society, which developed into motoring events such as the 1000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900. In 1905, the Club held the first Tourist Trophy, which remains the oldest trophy competed for in motor sports. The Club promoted the first British Grand Prix at Brooklands in 1926 and the first Grand Prix d’Europe at Silverstone in 1950, whilst continuing to campaign for the rights of the motorist, including introducing the first driving licences.
Today, the Club continues to develop and support automobilism through representation on the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Motorsport UK, and the RAC Foundation while promoting its own motoring events including London Motor Week, which features the free-to-attend Regent Street Motor Show on Saturday 2nd November and the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, which takes place on Sunday 3rd November.