In a heartbreaking turnaround for a 1-2 race victory, both Toyota TS050 Hybrid cars were excluded by race officials from round three of the 6-hours of Silverstone, 2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The two cars had a strong start for last weekend's event locking in the front row with a 1-2 qualifying stint. José María López steered the #7 TS050 Hybrid to set position ahead of the #8 TS050 Hybrid driven by Kazuki Nakajima who settled with second on the grid.
It was business as usual for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team as they raced through victory lane with the championship leading #8 car of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso taking the checkered flag. The #7 car of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López followed in second.
However, in post-race scrutineering, both cars were found to fail deflection tests on their respective skidblocks.
Toyota Gazoo Racing has denied any wrongdoing and explained their side, stewards however didn't consider it as a valid excuse.
Toyota Gazoo Racing's official statement reads:
"Both cars suffered damage to their respective front floor areas during the race due to impacts against the new kerbs at Silverstone. Regrettably, this also caused both cars to fail deflection tests in post-race scrutineering. As a result, race stewards disqualified both cars.
The design and construction of the part concerned has not changed since its introduction at the beginning of the 2017 season. Since then it has successfully passed similar tests, most recently at Spa this season."
The official stewards bulletin has replied with:
"Although there are no reports of the car being involved in any specific incident, the competitor stated that his only explanation for the non-conformity must have been as a result of the car running off-track and sustaining some sort of damage to the internal stays that fix that portion of the car.
The stewards considered this possibility but determined that the design of the car must be able to withstand the normal rigours of a six-hour endurance race."
The penalty meant that the #3 Rebellion Racing car of Mathias Beche, Gustavo Meneses, and Thomas Laurent has been promoted to 1st place, while the #1 Rebellion Racing car of Neel Jani, André Lotterer, and Bruno Senna gets 2nd place. SMP Racing's #17 car of Stephane Sarazin and Egor Orudzhev rounds up the top 3 from finishing 5th initially.