Everyone was prepared to welcome Toyota as only the second Japanese manufacturer ever to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans when the worst possible outcome happened: a mechanical failure forced the No. 5 to stop on its final lap. One team insider believes it may have had a turbo failure, per Daily Sportscar.
Something, which the team confirms is still under investigation, failed on the then-leading No. 5 Toyota TS050 at the second Mulsanne chicane. The failure eventually slowed the car to a halt just after the finish line, when it would have been starting its final lap.
The car was fine on fuel and driver Kazuki Nakajima was not instructed to change anything in order to get ready for a photo finish, team sources told Daily Sportscar. However, the publication overheard a curious theory from someone on the team:
The best stab we have over the root cause came in a remark overheard from a team insider post-race that firmly placed a turbo failure in the frame.
Fortunately, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s post-race press release confirms that their investigation into what happened is part of their preparations for next year’s race:
The team will analyze the cause of the problem as part of its preparations for the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours, which begin immediately.
It’s good to see that this tragic loss won’t keep them from trying again next year. To be so close to a victory with an ample lead ahead of the next car, lose it at the last moment, and go unclassified on a technicality in the rules is the utter worst.
We can’t wait to see what the pluckiest team in endurance racing brings then.