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24 Hours of Le Mans

Ex-F1 driver insists Toyota 'missing something' in 'tough' Le Mans defeat

Kamui Kobayashi has shared his thoughts after coming so close to winning a second Le Mans 24 Hours, narrowly falling short with Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Toyota 7
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Kamui Kobayashi has shared his disappointment with coming so close to winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, ultimately finishing second for Toyota Gazoo Racing

The driver of the #7 car reflected on the race, admitting that the team was "missing something" as it fell short of beating the #50 Ferrari of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen.

It was two wins in two years for the Italian marque, with the #51 car winning last year, on what was the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Down on energy, it was critical as to whether a final pit stop would be required for the #51 Ferrari, which would have handed the victory to Kobayashi and team-mates Nyck de Vries and Jose Maria Lopez - who was drafted in last minute to cover for the injured Mike Conway.

Having qualified at the back of the hypercar class, the #7 worked its way through the field to claim the podium finish, with the sister #8 car also coming close to glory, which Kobayashi touched upon when looking back over a weather and safety car-affected 24 hours.

"We did everything what we can do," the 37-year-old told Eurosport upon conclusion of the 24 hour race. "Of course, I think we started last [in class], obviously we're missing something - it's not enough. We had some problems as well. But yeah, the last piece [of the race] was not enough.

"All the team did everything what we could do, and of course, it's a shame for car #8. I think they had the opportunity to win as well, still fighting with car #50 [the winning Ferrari], but contact with car #51 [the third-place Ferrari] just dropped them back to fifth-position. It's quite tough for us, but this is racing."

Toyota Gazoo Racing philosophy

The former F1 driver, who raced for Toyota, Sauber and Caterham between 2009 and 2014, became the first Japanese driver to secure a podium finish in Japan for 22 years at the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.

He moved into endurance racing in 2016, taking the world title in 2019-20 and 2021, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the latter year - becoming just the fourth Japanese driver to do so.

Looking back on the 2024 edition of the race, he shared how he relished the challenge whilst highlighting the philosophy that underpins his team.

"We did everything, I think we take all the risk, and obviously we knew it was gonna be a challenge, but without the challenge, we never win," he said.

"So, we always do our best - and this is a Toyota Gazoo Racing philosophy, so that's why we never give up on it - we try until the end."

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