Kobayashi: We can’t wait to race against new competition!

Team Principal and driver of the #7 Toyota GR010 – HYBRID, Kamui Kobayashi gives his thoughts on WEC 2022

After a fantastic home outing in Fuji for Toyota Gazoo Racing, with an emphatic 1-2 victory in the Hypercar class, Team Principal and driver of the #7 Toyota GR010 – HYBRID, Kamui Kobayashi gives his thoughts on Fuji, the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship season, and the prospect of facing more competition in 2023 and beyond.

Always a fan favourite, Kamui answers the questions of the moment…

How good was it to get your home pole at Fuji?
I always say that, in endurance racing, qualifying doesn’t really matter because it is a six-hour race and that is where you win or lose. But it was a nice feeling to get pole position for my home race. It is my first pole in WEC at Fuji as well. Unfortunately, WEC did not race in Japan for three years, so I wanted to give the fans something to enjoy, and it was great to see so many of them cheering after I won the pole.

What was the key to everything going so well last time out?
The whole team worked very hard to prepare for Fuji. Of course, Le Mans is the target, but Fuji is a very important race for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing so everyone made a big effort to have a strong performance there, thank you to everyone for that. We always have great support from Toyota and our partners, particularly in Japan, and they are a big part of our success. As a team we feel their support really strongly in Fuji, as well as the support from our Japanese fans. This gives everyone aw boost and an added motivation.

What are your thoughts looking to increased Hypercar grids in 2023?
We can’t wait to race against new competition in Hypercar. Racing is about competition, so it is important to have big battles at the front, with many different cars. We are happy to race against Peugeot this year and it will be even more exciting when Ferrari, Porsche and others join WEC in 2023. Of course, it is a bigger challenge, so we need to be ready for the competition, but it is great for the fans and the championship, and we are looking forward to it.

What’s been the highlight of the season so far for you?
On car 7 there haven’t been too many highlights to be honest. Winning in Spa was great and it gave us a lot of confidence for Le Mans, so that is the highlight so far. But in my role as Team Principal I think the victory at Le Mans for car 8 was the best moment, particularly because this was Ryo’s first win at Le Mans and he did a fantastic job. I hope we will have another highlight in Bahrain, because it is important for us to win the World Championship.

“At every race it was a big fight”

What’s surprised you this season?
It is not really a surprise, but I have been impressed by the level of competition in Hypercar. At every race it was a big fight between us, Alpine and Glickenhaus, and now Peugeot has joined the battle. The performance is very close between all cars, and this means we have a big job to stay in front. There is no margin for error on our side, and this is good preparation for the big battle next year.