Toyota TS050 LMP1-H #8 – Spark

2019 Toyota TS050 LMP1-H #8
Pilots: S. Buemi, K. Nakajima, F. Alonso
Team: Toyota Gazoo Racing
Race: 1st overall (LMP1 class) at Le Mans in 2019
Spark - 43LM19 (resin)

Published 03/24/23

Toyota was after a Le Mans win since 1985. They got close in 1999 and 2013, when they finished in second overall. Yet, no overall win. Things changed with the TS050 Hybrid. Introduced in 2016 with high hopes, the car didn’t start out on the top. That year its best result was a second place at Silverstone. And later on, at La Sarthe, TS050 #5 was the protagonist in one of Le Mans’ most heart-breaking moments. Car #5 was consistent and on the lead over the second place Porsche 919 #2. However, with just 6 minutes to go, its engine experienced problems, and the Porsche overtook and won the race. The following year Toyota returned to Le Mans this time with a three-car team. Yet, only one finished, and in eighth place. Nonetheless, with Audi away since 2016 and Porsche leaving in 2017, 2018 could very well be Toyota’s break.

Toyota’s journey at Le Mans was a very long one.

Although, even with Porsche and Audi out of the way, Toyota improved the TS050 for 2018. The engineering team produced some aerodynamic tweaks and most importantly, mainly improved the TS050’s reliability. As Toyota painfully learned in 2016, to win Le Mans you first need to finish the race. So, with a good and reliable car, and with not much competition, Toyota finally scored a victory. Cars #8 and #7 finished in first and second place respectively, with the third place 10 laps behind. Many twisted their nose at Toyota’s feat, since competition was scarce. Well, that may be true, nonetheless the brand was investing in Le Mans for a total of 19 years. As a comparison, Porsche also took 19 years to take a trophy home. So it wasn’t only luck. It cost Toyota a lot of sweat, blood and tears to get there.

2019: if it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it.

For 2019, Toyota was obviously back at La Sarthe. And with the same TS050. In fact, they didn’t even change their driving roster. Never mess with a winning team, right? TS050 #8 was again in the hands of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso, while Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López piloted #7. It was an easy race for Toyota, with both cars running smoothly. Nonetheless, things heated up in the end, with a dramatic finish. Almost into the 23rd hour, López’s #7 was in first place, leading car #8 for 191 consecutive laps. The car’s tire pressure monitoring system informed him that his front-right tire had a puncture. He pitted and the pit crew changed only that tire. He went back out and the problem persisted, and Nakajima in car #8, passed him. López had to pit again, and with that, #8 finished in first.

To win/lose a 24 hour race because your pit crew did a SNAFU? Rough, to say the least!

Car #8 won and #7 came in second, so why a “dramatic finish”? Because #7’s pit crew changed the wrong tire the first time! The tire pressure monitoring system was faulty, and in reality it was the left-rear tire the problem 😳. I can only imagine the frustration of car’s #7 crew… As always, racing at Le Mans is never boring and winning is never easy. Yet in scale, an easy home run for Spark. The Toyota TS050 #8 here is a beautiful model, with breath-taking details. Basically, flawless. 


HOWEVER, if I’m allowed to complain about something, it would be about the livery. Obviously not Spark’s fault, nonetheless it’s hard to tell apart my cars from 2017, 2019 and 2020. And I don’t have the winning #8 2018 car yet, that, you guessed it, looks the same 😣. I kid you not: I marked the year of the car with a sharpie on each model’s underside… Why on Earth does the liveries on the top class of prototypes have to be so friggin’ bland?!? Jezzuz 🙄.

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