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Too early to rule out #7 Toyota from WEC title combat

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Heading into this weekend’s penultimate spherical of the WEC season at Fuji, Hirakawa and his team-mates within the #8 GR010 HYBRID, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley, lead the drivers’ standings on 115 factors.

The #7 Toyota crew of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are 23 factors down regardless of their victory final outing at Monza, tied with Ferrari trio James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Antonio Giovinazzi.

Conway had previously ruled out the #7 car fighting for the championship following its DNF within the Le Mans 24 Hours, however successful at Monza mixed with a troubled run to sixth for the #8 drivers has narrowed the distinction heading to Fuji.

A most of 65 factors stay up for grabs throughout the ultimate two weekends of the season, with the eight-hour Bahrain race providing further factors.

Contemplating the swing in the direction of the #7 automobile at Monza and the variety of factors nonetheless out there, Hirakawa says he’s taking nothing as a right because the title combat approaches its climax.

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“We have been combating for the championship inside the crew [in previous seasons], so automobile #7 shall be a risk,” the Japanese driver advised Autosport. 

“Automotive #7 was actually robust at Monza, and no one is aware of the way it will go at Bahrain both. It is too early to say that automobile #8 is the principle hope for Toyota. Each vehicles are nonetheless within the combat for the championship. 

“Earlier than the race, each vehicles #7 and #8 shall be working collectively to maximise the efficiency. After which within the race itself, we combat. Will probably be a really shut combat.”

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 – Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photograph by: Eric Le Galliot

Whereas admitting that he’s extra assured at Fuji owing to Toyota’s robust file of success at its residence venue, Hirakawa believes that the marque’s Hypercar rivals are to not be underestimated after improved showings at Monza.

Perception: 10 things we learned from the 2023 WEC 6 Hours of Monza

“Ferrari must be the principle risk, however as we noticed at Monza, not solely Ferrari however even Porsche and Peugeot are robust,” mentioned Hirakawa. 

“They may very well be quick, and it isn’t unattainable we might find yourself combating for P5 or P6. It is not going to be straightforward.

“However our #8 crew did an incredible job final 12 months at Fuji, so if we will do the identical once more I feel we shall be very robust. I’ve confidence, so I am wanting ahead to it.”

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