TOYOTA Racing: Le Mans 24 hours, two-hour report
TOYOTA Racing made a successful start to its very first race with a consistently fast performance in the opening two hours of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The #8 TS030 HYBRID of Stéphane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi took the rolling start from third with Stéphane at the wheel. Alex Wurz drove the opening stint for #7 as team-mates Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima watched from the pits.
On a mainly dry track, despite heavy morning rain, #8 lost a position on the opening lap and then swapped position with the other TS030 HYBRID after 20 minutes.
TOYOTA Racing's first competitive pit stops came just after the half-hour, with both cars benefiting from fast getaways under electric power from the TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing.
After the team's first-ever hour of racing, #7 and #8 were an impressive third and fourth. The starting drivers completed three stints behind the wheel, swapping at the third pit stop when Nicolas and Sébastien took over.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: "This is a consistent and satisfying start for us. The crew performed well in their first competitive pit stops and it was very satisfying to see the TS030 HYBRIDs pulling away under electric power in a race for the first time."
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima) Grid: 5th Hour 1 (Alex): 3rd (+44.655secs) / Hour 2 (Alex, Nicolas): 4th (+2mins 28.615secs)
Alex Wurz: "The start was okay. I was behind Stéphane and then was able to overtake him. After the first stop we were getting into the rhythm of the leading cars, who made a gap at the beginning and were able to maintain this. The car was a little difficult to drive at first, but then it improved with a better balance in the second and third stints. I was flat out and pushing like crazy."
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Stéphane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi) Grid: 3rd Hour 1 (Stéphane): 4th (+50.580secs) / Hour 2 (Stéphane, Sébastien): 5th (+2mins 42.705secs)
Stéphane Sarrazin: "I was surprised at the start because I think some competitors didn't follow the race procedure normally we have to be side by side. The car was quite sensitive during the first laps but it became better and I was regularly improving my lap times. I had really bad traffic and always in the fast corners I wasn't so lucky but I am sure it will be better next time. This first triple stint has been positive. We are now on the pace."
Further updates will follow after four, eight, 12, 16, 20 and 24 hours.
Copyright-free photos will be available via the media section of www.toyotahybridracing.com, where registered users can also download the TOYOTA Racing media kit for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
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 13 Le Mans 24 Hours races, with a total of 36 vehicles taking part. TOYOTA has finished on the podium three times, all second places. Including those results, it has finished in the top six a total of nine times. In qualifying, TOYOTA has four front-row starts to its name, including one pole position. For 2012, TOYOTA will return to endurance racing and the FIA World Endurance Championship as a full- time entrant with a hybrid LMP1 car, the TS030 HYBRID. 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. For more information, please visit www.toyotahybridracing.com and register for personal access to the media section. Follow the team on Twitter (@Toyota_Hybrid) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/toyotamotorsport).