Köln, Germany,

Qatar 1812 KM: Free Practice


TOYOTA GAZOO Racing kicks off in Qatar

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing was back on track at the Lusail International Circuit for the opening practice sessions for the Qatar 1812 KM, the first round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The team faces a challenging start to the defence of its World Championship titles on a track that does not suit the characteristics of the GR010 HYBRID Hypercars, which must adapt to additional Balance of Performance weight for this event. 

Nevertheless, drivers, engineers and mechanics are united to take on the challenge and worked hard over two 90-minute practice sessions to optimise car set-ups in preparation for Saturday’s 10-hour race.

After a day of intensive preparations, the #7 car of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries set the quickest GR010 HYBRID lap of the day for eighth overall. World Champions Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa were 13th in their #8 GR010 HYBRID.

First practice began shortly after midday local time on another hot, sunny and windy day at the Lusail International Circuit, and both GR010 HYBRIDs immediately hit the track to begin an intense programme of preparation for Saturday’s race.

After 11 hours of running on Monday and Tuesday during the official Prologue test, engineers and drivers spent Wednesday optimising set-up options to meet the challenge faced by the team this week. In first practice, the team analysed control systems and mechanical set-ups in the search for improvements. 

Three short red flag periods interrupted the 90 minutes but the GR010 HYBRIDs nevertheless completed a constructive session. Kamui and Mike shared the wheel of the #7, and Kamui set the car’s fastest lap, eighth overall. The #8 crew split driving duties between all three drivers and ended up 12th, after Brendon’s best lap. 

Second practice took place in cooler conditions under lights and provided another opportunity to analyse the medium and hard Michelin tyres available in Qatar. An early red flag disrupted running on new tyres but the team soon resumed with longer stints until, with 10 minutes to go, a second red flag ended the session early.

Both cars showed improved performance over longer stints, although the timesheets reflected only one-lap pace. Nyck completed the majority of laps in the #7 and set its fastest lap early in the session, eighth fastest at the end. In the #8, Sébastien spent longest behind the wheel and set its fastest lap, 13th overall.

The team now prepares for a final, one-hour practice session late morning local time on Friday before taking on a new qualifying format. All 19 Hypercars will participate in qualifying (16.20 local time, 14.20 CET) before the top 10 from that session go head-to-head in a Hyperpole shoot-out for pole position. 

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car #7): “Everything went smoothly today but still we are not where we want to be. We are trying to find out how we can make the tyres work on this track with our car, which is not easy. We have made progress and we are improving but the step forward today wasn’t as big as I hoped for. We will keep working to find more solutions and be ready for the race.”

Mike Conway (Driver, car #7): “Another day on track and again we are just trying to extract what we can out of the car. We have learned some interesting things from today’s sessions so we will take that into tomorrow and see how we can move forwards. It is all about learning for the race now, that has my full focus. Whatever happens in qualifying, we’re just looking to the race and trying to make progress.”

Nyck de Vries (Driver, car #7): “It is hard to get a full picture of our position relative to the competition. Everyone is running different programmes and we don’t know all the details, but it’s clear we have a steep challenge in front of us. We are continuing to understand more and hopefully we can put everything together in the best way for the race, but we still have a bit of work to do.” 

Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car #8): “Overall this has been a better day than the Prologue. We didn’t look great on one-lap pace but on long runs we were clearly better. I feel like we have made a step in the right direction and now we will work hard to improve further. The conditions in FP2 were completely different to the earlier session, a lot cooler in the night. The end of the race will be like that, so it was important to experience it.”

Brendon Hartley (Driver, car #8): “It was a relatively smooth day, with no real issues. We have made a few steps in the right direction and we are close to optimum for the package we have. We are still lacking some pace, particularly on one lap, so now our focus is on coming together as a team to put everything in place and achieve the maximum result. We will try to maximise our performance.”

Ryo Hirakawa (Driver, car #8): “I felt it was quite a productive day. We learned quite a lot from both sessions, which took place in different conditions. We are improving and catching up to our competitors. We are still missing one-lap speed but on race pace we are closing the gap so I am happy about that. If we can keep improving like this tomorrow, we can fight for a good result. There is only one practice left so hopefully we can make the most of it.”

Qatar 1812 KM – Free Practice 1 

1st#5 Porsche Penske (Campbell/Christensen/Makowiecki)1min 42.486secs39 laps
2nd#51 Ferrari AF Corse (Pier Guidi/Calado/Giovinazzi)+0.046secs45 laps
3rd#6 Porsche Penske (Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor)+0.107secs40 laps
4th#2 Cadillac Racing (Bamber/Lynn/Bourdais)+0.476secs40 laps
5th#99 Proton Competition (Tincknell/Jani/Andlauer)+0.540secs32 laps
6th#38 Hertz Team JOTA (Button/Hanson/Rasmussen)+0.613secs38 laps
8th#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+0.716secs31 laps
12th#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+1.041secs44 laps

Qatar 1812 KM – Free Practice 2 

1st#6 Porsche Penske (Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor)1min 39.990secs32 laps
2nd#93 Peugeot TotalEnergies (Jensen/Müller/Vergne)+0.782secs36 laps
3rd#38 Hertz Team JOTA (Button/Hanson/Rasmussen)+0.792secs32 laps
4th#2 Cadillac Racing (Bamber/Lynn/Bourdais)+0.996secs37 laps
5th#5 Porsche Penske (Campbell/Christensen/Makowiecki)+1.183secs36 laps
6th#12 Hertz Team JOTA (Stevens/Ilott/Nato)+1.338secs10 laps
8th#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+1.549secs36 laps
13th#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2.118secs39 laps


The 2024 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC press kit, along with rights-free video material and photography of all TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s motorsport projects, can be found at https://toyotagazooracing.com/media/.

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TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s motorsport activities in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) are supported by the following partners: