The new era has brought new competition in the form of Alpine with its grandfathered LMP1 effort as well as Glickenhaus. The American squad will run its two 007 LMH cars as the direct Hypercar competition to the Japanese manufacturer, with the number 709 team securing a season-best finish of third at Monza.
Chewing through the data from earlier rounds has been a big part of the Toyota build-up to Le Mans as the team hopes to minimise any more ill fortune for its drivers, but Conway believes that even with the team’s best-laid plans, there is always scope for an unforseen outcome in the new era of WEC.
“There’s so much to digest, it’s actually worth having a chat with your engineer to go back over and make sure you don’t forget anything, there’s a lot of details to be written down.
“This year, in the new car there’s lots of new things that we’re learning still. Like some of the stuff we had at Monza, some of the stuff we had at Spa so it’s actually a bit harder this year even though we learn from all the previous results we can implement into this one, there’s still new things that come up. It’s actually one of the harder ones for sure.
“From the first test we’ve had things that didn’t go as planned or had little gremlins that popped up and we don’t know why. So since day one, we’ve been constantly changing things, software, parts of the system, procedures, even all the pit stop stuff the guys do – the fuelling, the timings. From day one of the new car until now, we’ve been optimising and making adjustments.
“Some are bigger than others but they all count towards improvements. That will continue, through the whole era of Hypercar. It’ll be a case of drivers learning how the car reacts to set-up changes, but we learn something every time we’re in the car.
“New systems, new procedures. Some stuff we carry over but the driver manual changes constantly because we’re developing and changing things. It’s actually more in terms of preparation and procedure-wise than we’ve had before. You’ll relearn everything when you get out on track, that’s part of Le Mans.”
Even with the forensic-level analysis of a top team in endurance racing’s premier championship, there is only so much that can be done to ensure a smooth 24 hours, and even then an entirely clean race is unlikely.
Numerous unforeseen eventualities can play out and ruin a driver’s stint or even an entire team’s hopes no matter how much number-crunching goes on pre-race.
The long layout of the Le Mans circuit opens the door to plenty of unpredictability before you put Hypercars and GTE’s side-by-side for 24 hours.