Toyota reflects on heartbreak of losing Le Mans 24 Hours on final lap

Race leader Kazuki Nakajima of Toyota Gazoo Racing suffers engine problems with less than 3 minutes to run of the Le Mans 24 Hour race, handing victory to the Porsche Team at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 19, 2016 in Le Mans, France.

Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Toyota Gazoo Racing leaves the biggest race of its year devastated, after losing a sure-fire victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the final lap.

Kazuki Nakajima looked set to take the honors but lost all power in his No. 5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid with a little over two minutes on the clock.

Nakajima, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi later lost what would have been a second-place finish to a disqualification, further rubbing salt into the wound.

This came because the car completed the final lap too slowly to be classified, even though Nakajima managed to get it running again.

“First of all thank you to all the team members; we did everything right,” said Nakajima after the race.

Porsche wins 24 Hours of Le Mans as Toyota breaks down with two to go

“The car was great to drive. It was tough to have Porsche No. 2 only 30 seconds behind me towards the end but we had the pace and we managed it very well.

“It was only two laps missing and it’s a pity we didn’t get the trophy; the team deserved to win.

“When I was doing my last lap to the checkered flag, all the marshals and fans were really kind to me and that was very emotional.

“I want to say thank you for that. Let’s come back stronger and grab that trophy.”

Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, after leading the race early on, came through to finish second but behind the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid that inherited the win from the struggling No. 5 Toyota.

“I have mixed feelings,” admitted Conway. “Second is OK but we are all gutted for car No. 5. They drove a great race and were controlling it.

“You could see how upset everyone was; I really feel for them.” 

“I am incredibly proud of our team effort, not just today but since Le Mans last year,” added team president Toshio Sato.

“The way we have responded to the pain of our 2015 disappointment, by developing an all-new chassis and powertrain in a short timeframe, has been impressive and the performance of the TS050 Hybrid was strong.

“We worked as one team and took part in an amazing Le Mans 24 Hours. Congratulations to Porsche on its victory.

“I have no words to describe our emotions today. It is simply heartbreaking but we will return stronger and more determined to win.”