Qualifying misfortune for Toyota Racing in Austin
TOYOTA Racing will start the Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas from third position after an unfortunate qualifying session for the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Buemi were the nominated qualifiers in the #8 TS030 HYBRID, with Anthony Davidson watching from the garage.
Their chances were compromised when Stéphane's stint was effectively ended after just two timed laps when he was hit by another car.
This season's qualifying format requires two drivers from each car to set a minimum of two flying laps each. The grid is decided by the combined average of each driver's fastest two laps.
So, when the #32 LMP2 car hit the rear of the TS030 HYBRID under braking and pushed Stéphane into a spin, a crucial opportunity to improve that average was denied to him.
The contact caused minor damage to the bodywork, prematurely ending Stéphane's stint and necessitating a rapid change of rear end in pit lane.
Sébastien took over the wheel and showed the potential of the TS030 HYBRID during his four-timed-lap stint.
Earlier, all three drivers reacquainted themselves with the circuit in dry conditions during final practice, with Sébastien setting the fastest time for the #8 during the one-hour session, the third quickest overall.
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Stéphane Sarrazin)
Free practice 3: 3rd (1min 49.677secs), 25 laps
Qualifying: 3rd (1min 49.696secs average)
Sébastien Buemi: "I'm disappointed with how things went today. We were hoping to be closer to the front, but we were not helped by the incident early in qualifying. I was able to improve my lap times as the session went on, even though the tyre degradation came into play. This could be a good sign for the race but it will be a challenge tomorrow. We will push as hard as possible and do everything we can to fight at the front."
Stéphane Sarrazin: "I could only do two laps as unfortunately I was hit by an LMP2 car very early in the session. I took my normal line and braked in the normal place but was hit from behind. It was the same car which hit us in Sao Paulo so it's surprising that this happened again. It was really a pity but luckily the damage was only minor and Sébastien was able to do his qualifying laps. We start third and tomorrow is the important day so we concentrate on that now we will have a tough race but we will give our maximum."
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About TOYOTA Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship:
TOYOTA first competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 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 15 Le Mans 24 Hours races, achieving a best result of second place on four occasions (1992, 1994, 1999 & 2013). TOYOTA entered the revived WEC in 2012, as TOYOTA Racing, with its first hybrid LMP1 car, the TS030 HYBRID. After making its debut at Le Mans, the car went on to win three races from pole position in its first season. The TS030 HYBRID chassis, modified for 2013, 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 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.
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