Toyota Gazoo Racing had the Le Mans 24h race in their hands until 2 laps from the end, when technical trouble halted the leading #5 car. The stoppage ended a change for Toyota's surprise victory, and handed the crown to the Porsche #2, driven across the finish line by Neel Jani.
On back of a disappointing 2015 WEC campaign, Toyota decided to build an entirely new car, powered by a new 2.4L V6 twin turbo, and backed up by a battery ERS, replacing the team's usual supercapacitor system. Having been unable to match last year's Porsche and Audi runners, Toyota returned with a blast, introducing its new car a year ahead of the initial plans.
For the first time in the history of the race, the 24 hours event started behind the safety car, and continued as such for 45 minutes until the rain stopped and track conditions improved. It was immediately obvious that Toyota was on it, and in no time, one of the Toyota's was leading the race, having passed both Porsches and Audis on the wet track.
Audi quickly saw one of its cars out of contention as the team had to replace the turbo on the #7. It took about 20 minutes, and the car would eventually finished 4th, 18 laps down on the winner. The other Audi was able to keep up until the final three hours, where the team also found a problem there, requiring fixes and making the #8 car lose 11 laps, eventually finishing in 3rd, 13 laps down.
At Porsche, things were better, with Webber in the #1 car setting impressive times , but all hope for a Le Mans victory for him disappeared when a water pump issue popped up. Instead of fighting for the win, the car was in the pits for more than 20 laps, before coming out again and finding another problem, requiring another lengthy pitstop. The car finished in 13th place overall, 39 down on the race winner.
Porsche's #2 kept in contention, and effectively ran in second place in the final three hours, in between both Toyota cars. The number #6 car challenged to retake second place, but that push was scuppered when Kobayashi ended in the gravel trap, losing half a minute and requiring some repairs in the pits that dropped the car 3 laps.
It wasn't however until 6 minutes from the end when the race was decided, as Kazuki Nakajima reported a loss of power on the Toyota. He completed another half lap until deciding to stop on the pit straight to reset the car. However, as he stood still, Neel Jani passed along, taking a certain victory.
Nakajima eventually managed to restart the car, finishing second. To make things worse, his final lap lasted 12 minutes, which is against a rule that states the final lap by any car must be completed in less than 6 minutes, making the Toyota #5 go from leader to unclassified in the 4 final minutes of this race.
Heartbroken.— TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC (@Toyota_Hybrid) June 19, 2016