6 Hours of Monza: Free Practice
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing underway at Monza
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing began the second half of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season with a constructive first practice for the 6 Hours of Monza.
Following its dominant one-two victory in last month’s Le Mans 24 Hours, the team returned to action with the first session at Monza, round four of six this season.
On a hot and sunny day in northern Italy, the #8 car of Le Mans winners Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa was the fastest of the two GR010 HYBRIDs. A lap of 1min 39.120secs put them in fourth place, 1.136secs behind the pace-setting Glickenhaus.
World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in their #7 GR010 HYBRID, were just 0.167secs further back in fifth.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing welcomes Peugeot’s arrival in the WEC Hypercar class this weekend and looks forward to the start of an exciting new era of competition, which will support the ongoing ambition to make ever-better cars.
Today’s session was the first time for the GR010 HYBRID to share a track with Peugeot’s 9x8 and it came at a fitting venue. Toyota scored a landmark victory in 1992 at Monza, beating Peugeot over 500km for its maiden win in World Championship endurance racing.
While the technology has evolved significantly over those 30 years, particularly with high-tech hybrid powertrains, the ultimate goal remains to stand on the top step of the podium. Today’s 90-minute session was the first step in fine-tuning the GR010 HYBRIDs for Sunday’s six-hour contest.
The GR010 HYBRIDs exceeded 317km/h on Monza’s famous long straights, but an efficient set-up at the 5.793km parkland circuit also requires balance through fast, sweeping corners and stability under heavy braking for two slow chicanes.
The session was therefore used to complete a packed programme of mechanical and aerodynamic comparisons on both GR010 HYBRIDs to find the optimal set-up for Monza’s unique challenges.
Time behind the wheel was split evenly between all drivers in each car over the course of the session. Kamui set the quickest time for the #7 car in the final seconds of the session, while Sébastien’s lap in the first 15 minutes was the best for the #8 car.
A busy Saturday sees two further practice sessions before the starting grid is decided during 10 minutes of qualifying in the evening. A 38-car field will take the green flag for the 6 Hours of Monza at midday local time on Sunday.
Kamui Kobayashi (Driver, car #7): “We had quite a smooth session on our car and learned a few things. It’s always difficult to judge the situation after only one practice session. It seems like it wasn’t the greatest start to the weekend for us but we were working on preparing a strong car for the race, so we will make some changes and see where we are on Sunday. I am looking forward to an exciting weekend.”
Mike Conway (Driver, car #7): “Obviously it’s nice to get back out on track, particularly here at Monza. We did plenty of laps but there are some areas to work on to improve the handling of the car. It looks like it will be an interesting weekend because the pace of our Hypercar competitors seems pretty strong. We will see what we can do to find more performance and be in good shape for the race.”
José María López (Driver, car #7): “It’s good to be back in the car at the Temple of Speed. I always like to race here because I have positive memories of this track, including our win last year. There’s not much to say after only one session. We have just been focusing on improving the balance of our car. There are two important practice sessions tomorrow so now we need to look at what we can do to get better.”
Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car #8): “It is the first time with Peugeot on track, which was great to see. We did 48 laps on our car, more than anyone else, so there is a lot of data to analyse to be ready for tomorrow. We seem to be a bit slower than the Glickenhaus at the moment, but we will make some changes based on the data from first practice and try to find some performance.”
Brendon Hartley (Driver, car #8): “I am happy to be back here at Monza and it was nice to see the first of our new Hypercar competitors on track. Our day went quite smoothly but we seemed to lack a bit of pace. We tried some different set-up options on our car compared to the sister car, so we need to analyse the data. It’s first practice and there is lot of track time to come but we have a bit of work to do.”
Ryo Hirakawa (Driver, car #8): “It has been quite a positive day for me and I am pretty happy. I had a relatively long stint in the car and I could get into a good rhythm as the stint went on, and my lap times were competitive compared to my team-mates as well. We have to work on the set-up more because there is a gap to our competitors in Hypercar, so we have plenty to focus on.”
|6 Hours of Monza – First Practice
|#708 Glickenhaus Racing (Pla/Dumas/Derani)
|#36 Alpine Elf Team (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxiviere)
|#93 Peugeot TotalEnergies (Di Resta/Jensen/Vergne)
|#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
|#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
|#83 AF Corse (Perrodo/Nielsen/Rovera)
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