TOYOTA Racing in the fight at Fuji
TOYOTA Racing has two cars in the top three of the grid for its home race after a close qualifying session for the Six Hours of Fuji, the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The #8 of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin was just 0.178secs away from pole position as it took second, while the #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima was close behind in third, 0.283secs off.
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.
Kazuki took the wheel of the #7 for the start of qualifying, completing two incredibly consistent flying laps, within 0.001secs of each other, before handing over to Nicolas.
Sébastien was the opening driver for #8 before Anthony took the second stint, keeping up the pressure on pole position.
Although all sessions so far have taken place in dry conditions, forecasts suggest a high chance of rain for tomorrow's race, which begins at 11am local time.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 3: 1st (1min 27.117secs), 23 laps
Qualifying: 3rd (1min 26.860secs average)
Nicolas Lapierre: "Kazuki did a very nice job but I caught some traffic on the last two laps. I am a little bit disappointed with that because it could have been a little bit better. In the end it was a positive session and the car is working really well around here. We know we have the consistency for the long runs so we are quite confident and positive. The weather will be very important that will be the key point for the race. It was very close today and it will be an exciting race."
Kazuki Nakajima: "It was a good qualifying session for us and I am happy with my lap times. It was very close today not just between the two TS030 HYBRIDs but also for pole position. So it looks like it will be another tight race, just like last year. Today the car felt good and the lap times are very competitive. This is the best so far this year for the whole team. Now we want to build on that tomorrow when I think we will be in a good position."
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Stéphane Sarrazin)
Free practice 3: 4th (1min 27.536secs), 31 laps
Qualifying: 2nd (1min 26.755secs average)
Anthony Davidson: "It is always disappointing to just miss out on pole especially when it's your home race. But that was the closest we have been all season by a long way so I am really happy, particularly with the car. The set-up changes we made tweaked it to perfection and both Sébastien and I are really happy with the balance it was the best it's been. All things point to a good race tomorrow if it's dry but if it's wet it is an unknown circumstance for everyone."
Sébastien Buemi: "It was a good qualifying and I am happy with my laps. Of course you can always find a little bit of time but I think we did a good job finding the right set-up on the car. We have not been so close to Audi in qualifying this year. We are more competitive than before compared to them so this is encouraging. It bodes very well for the race but we need to wait to see what the weather brings tomorrow."
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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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