Toyota Gazoo Racing’s #7 Toyota TS050 driver José María López is taking on the 88th running of the 24 Hours more aggressively than ever while hailing the end of a longer than the normal wait between races at the venue.
The Argentinian is determined to secure his first win at Le Mans this year with teammates Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway.
With just a few days left until the race, what is your frame of mind? JML: “The wait seems endless! And even longer this year as it has been more than a year since the last one. Normally, we are always working toward the 24 Hours. We participate in a world championship, but Le Mans is something else. Everyone wants to win and preparation takes a long time. It fosters a certain anxiousness. But now we’re here and happy to be. We are ready and I can’t wait to get in the car.”
Do you feel a sense of revenge relative to last year? JML: “Yes. I don’t know if it’s a question of revenge, of course everyone wants to win this race and we came so close, especially last year. But there are people who tried 20 times and never managed to win it. That gives you an idea of the challenge that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. No matter who your adversaries or teammates are, it’s always difficult and it makes you respect the race. Naturally this year I hope we succeed because we deserve to win.”
Your main rival will be the #8 Toyota. How do you feel about battling with drivers from your own team? JML: “It’s hard obviously. We’ve been competing with each other since the first appearance of the TS050, so we know they’ll be tricky to beat. They’re going to give us a run for our money, and we’ll do the same. But we respect the limits, of course, and respect each other, remembering that we represent the same team and the priority is always for the team to win.”
Does Toyota Gazoo Racing really let you duel freely? JML: “Yes, yes, we’re free to compete as I said, but always with respect for each other. The worst would be to battle each other and it causes a problem that prevents us from delivering our best performance for the team. So we can duel, but we have to keep in mind we’re taking on our own teammates.”
Alpine has announced it will compete in the head class next year. How do you feel about that? JML: “These days, the arrival of someone new is always good. We are always thrilled to welcome newcomers, it means more cars, more jobs, more spots for drivers too. It is very good new and I hope there will be more.”