Did Toyota lose the 24 Hours of Le Mans because of a simple thumbs-up?

toyota ts050 clutch failure explained quotes reasons 24 hours of le mans
Toyota pilot Kamui Kobayashi secured the pole position ahead of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans by setting an impressive lap record. His number seven car emerged as the favorite for victory in one of the world’s most grueling races, but it unexpectedly dropped out of the race due to a mechanical issue. Video footage taken in the pits suggests the issue might have been caused by a simple misunderstanding.

Kobayashi took advantage of a slow zone during the 14th hour to make a pit stop. Footage shows a man dressed in an orange and black racing suit running over to the car and giving the Japanese driver a thumbs-up. It turns out the man in the suit was Vincent Capillaire, a fellow pilot. However, his orange and black suit made him look like one of the race marshals. Kobayashi thought he had just received a signal to rejoin the race, so he sped off.

Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon explains widespread confusion followed.

“In this case, he has seen a marshal telling him to go. From our side, we told him “stop!” because the safety car queue was coming, and it was not possible. There has been, as you can imagine, some confusion. Start, stop, start, stop,” he told website Sportscar365.

Turning an engine on and off multiple times doesn’t sound particularly problematic, especially not if you drive a late-model car equipped with a start/stop system, but it caused a great deal of damage in an expensive and extremely complicated car like the TS050 Hybrid (pictured). The race-leading number seven car ended up dropping out of the race with a burned-out clutch.

Capillaire apologized for giving Kobayashi the thumbs-up. “I wanted to show my encouragement,” he wrote on his personal Facebook page. “It was a spontaneous [sign of] encouragement.” He was fined for the incident.

The race didn’t go as planned for Toyota, but the team will return to next year’s edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“We will be back next year and we will have the opportunity again. For Toyota it is hard but we will come back very strongly and we have to win this race,” Kobayashi promised in an interview with website Motorsport. You can bet Porsche will be on the starting grid, too, in a bid to secure its 20th overall victory.

Cars

Jaguar’s rally-ready F-Type roadster is happiest off the pavement

Jaguar is celebrating the XK120's 70th birthday by turning the F-Type roadster into a rally warrior. Built to FIA specifications, the model receives suspension and braking upgrades plus a full roll cage to protect the occupants.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Cars

Honda HR-V vs. Honda CR-V: The differences explained

The Honda HR-V and CR-V may overlap in some regard, but they're not the same vehicle. In this comparison, we highlight the design, technology, performance, and fuel economy unique to each ride.
Cars

This hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Silverado looks like it’s straight out of Halo

General Motors' defense division has released video footage of a rugged, Halo-like truck called Silverado ZH2. The pickup is powered by the next evolution of GM's hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain.
Mobile

Google Maps tests feature that will help drivers avoid crashes, speed traps

Google Maps is testing a feature that lets drivers report crashes and speed traps so the app can plan efficient routes for others in the area, or warn of upcoming hazards. Waze, which Google owns, already offers such a feature.
Cars

Tesla appoints Robyn Denholm as chair, Elon Musk steps down

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk agreed to step down from his role as chairman as part of a settlement deal with the SEC. Tesla has named a 55-year-old Australian businesswoman named Robyn Denholm as his successor.
Cars

Ares turns the Tesla Model S into a two-door roadster with Italian flair

Italian coachbuilder Ares has done what Tesla won't. It's taking a Model S, chopping off the roof, and sending the rear doors back to the parts bin to create a roadster that's ready for the French Riviera.
Cars

Ford buys scooter-sharing service Spin as it looks to expand beyond cars

Ford has acquired San Francisco-based scooter-sharing company Spin. The Blue Oval believes mobility services like scooter sharing can complement its existing car business going forward.
Cars

Bosch, Daimler team up to deploy autonomous Mercedes-Benz S-Classes in San Jose

In 1986, when Bosch and Daimler joined an autonomous car research project, the technology seemed overly futuristic. Now, the partners are aiming to make a production self-driving car by the early 2020s.
Cars

Thinking of driving for Uber? These cars are safe, comfy, and fuel-efficient

Uber is a viable means for making money on the side, but you won't earn much if all of your profits are going direct toward fuel and maintenance. Thankfully, these five cars are a perfect fit for those looking to shuttle passengers from…
Cars

Ambitious but not rubbish: The best 'Top Gear' episodes

Since its relaunch in 2002, 'Top Gear' has become required viewing for any serious gearhead. The great moments from this show may seem too numerous to count, but we've managed to pick some of the highlights from the first 25 seasons.
Cars

Camaro vs. Mustang: Differences and similarities between two premier pony cars

The Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang are two of America's favorite sports cars. In this comparison piece, we highlight the main differences between the two machines when it comes to their design and performance, among other factors.