Toyota wants so badly to be back in winning form this year after a 2016 saw them lose the 24 Hours of Le Mans due to a last-minute connector failure. This is supposed to be Toyota’s year with a new, improved TS050, yet they’ve had the first major top LMP1-class Le Mans prototype crash of 2017 at the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
Unlike Porsche’s LMP1 squad, Toyota hasn’t been testing out their Le Mans low-downforce aerodynamics kit at the World Endurance Championship’s season opener. No amount of extra downforce could help José María López when he hit a painted curb in the No. 7 Toyota TS050 at Copse Corner in damp Silverstone conditions, though. Painted pavement has exponentially less grip than regular asphalt, as it’s smooth and has nowhere for water to go.
This sent López out of control and hard into the wall. Fortunately, he was able to get out of the car under his own power, however, the car was badly damaged. Miraculously, the car was able to be driven back into the pits, where Toyota is rushing to put it back together.
Toyota has led the race for long stints during today’s 6 Hours of Silverstone, so the car has a chance. It hasn’t typically been the No. 7, however, as No. 7 has been struggling with a broken rear anti-roll bar. Will they get it back together in time to make the ending? Either way, kudos for trying.
UPDATE [11:33 a.m.]: A G-force sensor in the car mandated that López be checked out by a local hospital following the hard hit, just to be safe.
UPDATE [11:52 a.m.]: Holy crap, the No. 7 is going back out.
Toyota got the car fixed with a little over an hour left in the race, and will be classified as a finisher in the LMP1 class if they complete more than 70% of the winner’s race distance. Mike Conway is behind the wheel, as López is still getting checked over at the hospital.