It’s not called the Green Hell for nothing. For the drivers, every lap of the Nürburgring is fraught with danger. But for the Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Thailand, competing in a 24-hour race at the ‘Ring is all about racing intelligently to make sure the cars cross the finish line. Especially in this year’s race, when racing was suspended because of treacherous weather conditions. Using Motul 300V, the pair of Toyota Corolla Altis GR Sport’s finished in a superb first and third place in the SP3 class. Kentaro Chiba, team manager of Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Thailand, tells us more about his race-winning strategy.
Chiba-san, congrats on a superb double podium finish at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. How was the race?
Yes, last year we finished P1 and P2 in the class. But we’re very satisfied with our P1 and P3 finishes this year. Three minutes before the race started, we had a rain shower, so that was why for our first stint I chose the rain tyre from Michelin. I chose the safe way to survive the race. In a 24-hour race, there’s a long way to go.
To be successful in a race like the N24, is it all about strategy?
The last four hours is when you actually race. In a 24-hour race, the first 20 hours are all about surviving and crossing the finish line. Then for the last four hours, I’ll make a strategy based on where we are positioned, what the weather is like and what our competitors are doing. When the weather is super bad, like foggy or raining, a lot of the cars crash into the barrier. We just slow down just a little bit to about 80% of our performance. I always tell the drivers "please be safe and stay on the track", otherwise we don’t get anything.
How long has your team been competing in the Nürburgring 24 Hours?
For myself, this is my third year in team management for this race. But for the Toyota Gazoo Thailand team, this is the eighth year.
Endurance racing is tough. What benefits does Motul products bring to your team during such extreme races?
If we didn’t use Motul products, we wouldn’t survive the race. It’s about being sustainable. On every lap, when a driver passes the Audi bridge, I ask them what the engine oil and water temperature is, as well as gas consumption. Every lap. It’s about sustainable performance. We appreciate the performance of Motul’s products. Most of the suggestions we have are from the mechanics and Motul, so we follow their advice and keep learning.
As well as endurance racing, what else does your team compete in?
We are racing in three divisions. Nürburgring, SuperGT in Japan, and also the RAAT Thailand Super Series. The next race for us will be the endurance six-hour race in Thailand in two months. There are so many races being cancelled in Thailand because of Covid.
© Pictures: Jochen Merkle