Sometimes, probability can be a miserable, awful thing. Just ask Toyota, who saw assured victory at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans plucked from its grasp at the very last moment.
From all perspectives, this was Toyota's race to win. The Japanese racing team went full-force this year, bouncing back from a sixth- and eighth-place finish during the 2015 race to claim the first and third slots leading into the final lap. The No. 5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP car appeared to have an iron grip on the lead, until just 10 minutes before the 24-hour mark. Around 23 hours, 50 minutes, the TS050 began to lose power. As the Toyota began to stumble, the podium-hungry Porsche 919 Hybrid nipped at its heels.
Mere feet after crossing the starting line on what would be its final lap, the TS050 sputtered to a halt on the side of the tarmac. The 919 snaked past, and completed the three-minute lap for another victory for the Porsche.
Initially, we weren't privy to the nature of the failure. Rumors emerged surrounding an unnamed "turbo failure," but nothing concrete from Toyota had come out — until now. In a statement from the team, the final lap failure was a direct result of a connector defect on the air line situated between the turbocharger and the intercooler. When the connector malfunctioned, Toyota says there was a complete "loss of turbocharger control."
The team was able to get the car running again to complete the final lap, but it was too late to receive a finishing position, and after 23 hours, 50 minutes, was deemed a DNF on the final standings.
Toyota says an investigation is currently underway, and confirmed this issue had nothing to do with the powertrain struggles experienced earlier this season at Spa Francorchamps.