TOYOTA Racing locks out front row at silverstone
TOYOTA Racing made the perfect start to its FIA World Endurance Championship season by taking first and second on the grid for the season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone.
The #7 TS030 HYBRID of Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre took pole position - the team's fourth from seven races since its 2012 debut - with the #8 of Anthony Davidson, Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Buemi in second.
A new qualifying format for this season means two drivers from each car must set a minimum of two flying laps each. The grid is decided by the combined average of each driver's fastest two laps.
In changing conditions, the #7 crew's decision to switch to slick tyres for Alex, having started on intermediates with Nicolas, paid dividends.
A rain shower just before the session left the track damp, but a dry line gradually emerged and Alex took advantage of this on the slick tyres to improve the #7's average time and set the fastest lap of the session in the process.
Anthony started the session in the #8 on intermediate tyres and handed over to Sébastien, who stayed on intermediates and secured second spot. With only two drivers taking part in the session, Stéphane watched from the garage.
Today's result means TOYOTA will have cars in first and second on the grid of an FIA world championship race for the first time since the 2009 Bahrain Grand Prix.
The race begins at 12.00 on Sunday.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre)
Free practice 3: 3rd (1min 49.754secs), 26 laps
Qualifying: 1st (1min 48.021secs average)
Alex Wurz: "It was a new qualifying format but today it was totally overshadowed by the weather conditions. With a rain shower at the beginning and a drying track at the end it was quite tricky. Nico did a super job in the first stint. I took over the car with slick tyres and the circuit was dry enough to put in a good lap time. So we are very happy we have pole position and that's what we like."
Nicolas Lapierre: "It is a really good start to the season getting the pole position here at Silverstone in those difficult conditions. It was a good strategy from the engineers, drivers and all the team. Pole position is one thing but also getting the fastest lap is very important for us and gives us confidence for tomorrow. The car is looking good. It will be a tough race but it's so important for us to start first and second on the grid so we are very happy right now."
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Stéphane Sarrazin, Sébastien Buemi)
Free practice 3: 4th (1min 51.639secs), 23 laps
Qualifying: 2nd (1min 49.995secs average)
Anthony Davidson: "It was a difficult qualifying session with mixed conditions, but it was good fun. It was the right call to start on the intermediates I felt really confident and was pushing as hard as I wanted. When we swapped drivers we continued on the inters whereas the #7 went on to slicks and ultimately that was the right thing to do. We played it safe because we had a comfortable advantage and we got the result we needed. First and second is a really good start to the championship."
Sébastien Buemi: "It was a fantastic qualifying. We can be very happy to beat the Audis. Obviously it is just qualifying and in endurance this doesn't decide anything but to start from the front row is great. Tactically it was a very difficult call on the tyres because the circuit was wet to start with and dried really quickly. We split the cars, with us staying on intermediates and the #7 switching to slicks. At the end of the session the inters were not the ideal tyres for the conditions but we managed first and second, which is the most important thing."
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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