Rain-affected start to the season for TOYOTA Racing
TOYOTA Racing got its FIA World Endurance Championship season under way in wet and regularly changing conditions today with a pair of practice sessions for the Six Hours of Silverstone.
Following three wins from six races in 2012, the team arrived in Britain with two 2012-specification TS030 HYBRID cars. Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre share the #7, with Anthony Davidson, Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Buemi in the #8.
Rain before and during the first session gave the two crews a chance to try out Michelin's wet and intermediate tyres. An incident-free session saw the two TS030 HYBRIDs finish third (#7) and fourth (#8).
For the drivers of the #8 car, today represented their first competitive sessions for TOYOTA Racing since last year's Le Mans 24 Hours, although all three have completed an extensive pre-season testing programme.
The rain returned for second practice, although a short dry spell provided a very brief window for slick tyre evaluation. With such limited dry running, the final result of third (#7) and sixth (#8) does not reflect the expected picture for the rest of the weekend.
Tomorrow sees a final one-hour practice (09.00-10.00) before qualifying in the afternoon (12.40-13.00) with the starting position for each car determined by the aggregate of two drivers' two fastest laps. The race begins at 12.00 on Sunday.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre)
Free practice 1: 3rd (1min 56.549secs), 33 laps
Free practice 2: 3rd (1min 43.843secs), 29 laps
Alex Wurz: "The changeable conditions were not ideal but it's the same for everyone. Still, it was an interesting day and we were able to go through some tests. Now we have to wait and see, particularly in terms of the weather the forecast is a little bit better for the remainder of the weekend. The main focus now will be on the few laps we could complete in the dry. We will analyse the data we gained and try to optimise the package."
Nicolas Lapierre: "It was an interesting session. We had some lap time on the dry tyre which was important for us. We've tested the different tyres - wet, inter and dry - now we have to take a good look on the data so we make the right choices. We tried various set-ups and it will be important to make a good debrief to extract the best from our car. Hopefully, tomorrow should be dry so we will see how it goes."
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Stéphane Sarrazin, Sébastien Buemi)
Free practice 1: 4th (1min 56.650secs), 33 laps
Free practice 2: 6th (1min 45.520secs), 27 laps
Anthony Davidson: "The mixed conditions today made it difficult to get the best balance on the car. In the second session I drove just one lap on the intermediate tyre and realised straight away that the track had dried and was ready for slicks. So we could do a tyre comparison on the slicks, which is good as it gives us some knowledge of these tyres. The weather was kind enough for that but we want to extract a bit more speed from the car. We'll be working on that into tomorrow."
Stéphane Sarrazin: "It's nice to be back in a competitive session with TOYOTA Racing. It's a pity the weather wasn't really kind, but that's the same for all teams. The tyres were behaving very well in the wet and it felt like we have a very good car. Also with the intermediate tyres we had a nice balance and we could push quite hard, so the lap times were looking strong. We will study the set-up now and make the most of our car for the rest of the weekend."
Sébastien Buemi: "It was quite a good day because all the three drivers could get running. It's nice to be back on a race circuit, part of the #8 line-up and fighting with the other guys. It was difficult due to the changing conditions on track and we had to adapt to these conditions. In the end, it's not ideal to set-up the cars when it dries and rains again but it should be dry for the rest of the weekend so we are quite confident to get a good set-up."
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 returned to endurance racing 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 went on to win three of the six races it competed. The 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 (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.
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