Chinese fireworks from TOYOTA Racing
TOYOTA Racing set the pace when practice began for the final FIA World Endurance Championship race of the season, the Six Hours of Shanghai in China.
Following an exciting home victory at Fuji Speedway two weeks ago, Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre return in the #7 TS030 HYBRID, although Kazuki Nakajima is absent due to his Super GT commitments.
The TS030 HYBRID was second fastest in opening practice, just 0.146secs behind the leading car, before improving significantly in the afternoon session, finishing fastest by 1.158secs.
This weekend's event marks the end of TOYOTA Racing's first season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, in which it has recorded two victories in its five races so far.
This morning Nicolas started first practice on his return to a track he last drove back in 2006. He concentrated on initial set-up analysis, with lap times improving as the TS030 HYBRID was tuned to the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit.
Alex, with slightly more recent experience of the circuit having raced here in 2007, took over with around 20 minutes remaining and guided the #7 car to the chequered flag.
The roles were reversed in the afternoon, when Alex drove the TS030 HYBRID for the opening hour. He concentrated on a long stint to evaluate race set-up and tyre performance before handing over to Nicolas for the closing minutes.
Saturday sees third practice (09.15-10.15) before qualifying (13.55-14.15), while warm-up on Sunday (08.00-08.20) precedes an 11.00 race start.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre)
Free practice 1: 2nd (1min 52.365secs), 29 laps
Free practice 2: 1st (1min 50.573secs), 42 laps
Alex Wurz: "The first session this morning was slightly tricky. We had to adjust quite a bit on the car but actually that worked out very nicely for the long run. I found a very good rhythm and I was also quite lucky with traffic to be honest. On paper this track should be quite good in terms of traffic but in reality off line is so dusty that it is pretty bad, so it will be interesting in the race. The track surface itself evolved quite a bit from the first laps this morning, but that was as expected. It's still early in the weekend I am quite pleased but there are some places where we can optimise the car so there is still work to do."
Nicolas Lapierre: "Shanghai is a nice track to drive. The surface was very dirty at the beginning of the morning session I guess it has been a while since it has been used but it was getting better lap after lap. The balance was not great at the start because the track is quite bumpy and we didn't expect it to be so much of an issue. So we adjusted the set up of the car to take that into account and it was much better. In the afternoon Alex did most of the driving, checking some other set-up changes and seeing how the tyres evolve on a track which is quite aggressive. There is still room for improvement but we have made good progress."
About TOYOTA Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship:
TOYOTA first competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 1983, marking the start of a long period of participation in endurance racing which included several editions of the Le Mans 24 Hours. TOYOTA cars have raced in 14 Le Mans 24 Hours races, with a total of 38 vehicles taking part. For 2012, TOYOTA returns to endurance racing and the FIA World Endurance Championship as a full-time entrant with a hybrid LMP1 car, the TS030 HYBRID. This car won for the first time at the Six Hours of Sao Paulo in September, just its third race and followed that with victory at Fuji Speedway in October. The chassis has been designed and built by TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG), where the race team is based. TMG is the former home of TOYOTA's World Rally and Formula 1 works teams, and was responsible for design and operation of TOYOTA's TS020 (GT-One) Le Mans car in 1998-99. TMG now combines works motorsport participation with a new direction as a high-performance engineering services provider to third party companies, as well as the TOYOTA family. www.toyotahybridracing.com
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