Tough luck for Conway once again
Britain’s top Le Mans racer must be wondering what he’s done to deserve such luck at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Mike Conway had previously finished second three times out of four attempts for Toyota and returned to the race with another great chance to go one better. But once again it wasn’t to be.
His #7 TS050 Hybrid, shared with former Sauber grand prix driver Kamui Kobayashi and Argentine Jose Maria Lopez, led by a lap going into the 12th hour, only for a power problem to force the car to pit. The trio lost half an hour to a turbo change thanks to a problem eventually traced to an exhaust manifold, and that was more than enough to scotch their hopes for another year. This time, they didn’t even finish second, only inheriting a podium third place in the last hour when Louis Deletraz had an off in the non-hybrid #3 Rebellion R-13 he shared with Nathanael Berthon and Romain Dumas.
Between the two Toyotas, Rebellion’s #1 entry driven by Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato finished second, five laps behind the winner, on the Swiss team’s final appearance not only at Le Mans but likely at any race. The team, which is disbanding, is unlikely to run at the World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain in November, now that Toyota has the title almost in its grasp. For a team that beat the hybrid cars twice this season thanks to favourable performance equivalency rules, a runner-up finish at its final Le Mans was hardly a surprise – and perhaps even an anti-climax. Still, it had been clear from practice that a fairy-tale victory would only have been on the cards if both Toyotas had hit trouble. As it turned out, one major problem was not enough to gift Rebellion the race.