Toyota gazoo racing heading home
TOYOTA has won its home race, on the foothills of Mount Fuji, for the past three years, including a one-two victory last year on its way to winning the manufacturers' World Championship.
Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi won the Fuji race 12 months ago to strengthen their hold on the drivers' title and this year they are joined in the #1 TS040 HYBRID by Kazuki Nakajima, a winner of this race in 2012 and 2013.
Alex Wurz is also a two-time victor at Fuji and he is joined in the #2 TS040 HYBRID by Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway, who is making his LMP1 debut in Japan.
The Fuji Speedway track, which is now 4.563km long with 16 corners and a 1.475km straight, has a rich history in endurance racing and a special place in TOYOTA's own motorsport past.
The 1000km of Fuji attained legendary status since its first race in 1967, won by the TOYOTA 2000GT. The iconic TOYOTA 7 forged its reputation as an endurance race car by winning the following two Fuji races.
The race joined the WEC calendar in 1982 and ran for seven years, including three seasons when the series was known as the World Sports Prototype Championship.
Fuji Speedway itself, located around 110km from central Tokyo, has evolved significantly since its opening in 1965, when a banked oval-style section made up half of its length.
In 1976, Fuji hosted the first-ever Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix. After an extensive renovation under TOYOTA ownership, it reopened in 2005 and once again welcomed Formula 1, in 2007 and 2008.
This week's event represents the 15th FIA World Championship race held at Fuji Speedway. It begins with two practice sessions on Friday (11.45 & 15.30), with final practice (09.50) and qualifying (14.10) on Saturday. The race starts on Sunday at 11.00.
Toshio Sato, Team President: "As our home race, Fuji Speedway is always a highlight of the year for our team. We experience fantastic support from the Japanese fans and they make us feel very welcome. In the past three years we have had great success at Fuji so we have some special memories and we will be pushing as hard as possible again. Our Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre, where our hybrid powertrain is developed, is very close to Fuji Speedway so this weekend is a rare chance for these colleagues to see their car in action. We are very pleased to have their support and we are lucky to have a lot of other TOYOTA Motor Corporation colleagues, as well as our TOYOTA group partners, joining us at the track, which always brings added motivation."
Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #1): "We are all looking forward to our home race at Fuji. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the fans and all our TOYOTA colleagues who come to support us. We have a great track record there we are undefeated in WEC at Fuji. I know it is going to be a challenge to keep that winning run going for another year but you never know. The weather can be unpredictable in Fuji at this time of year and wet conditions would sway things in our favour. We'll be giving everything to take any opportunities that come our way."
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at Fuji Speedway:
2012 #7: Qualifying 1st Race 1st.
2013 #7: Qualifying 3rd Race 1st. #8: Qualifying 3rd Race 27th.
2014 #7: Qualifying 4th Race 2nd. #8: Qualifying 1st Race 1st.
TOYOTA first competed in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 1983, marking the start of a long period of participation in endurance racing. Since 1985, TOYOTA cars have raced in 17 Le Mans 24 Hours races, achieving a best result of second place on four occasions (1992, 1994, 1999 and 2013). TOYOTA entered the revived WEC in 2012 with its first hybrid LMP1 car, the TS030 HYBRID, which won five of the 14 races it entered over two seasons. It was succeeded in 2014 by the four-wheel-drive TS040 HYBRID, which won its debut race and subsequently the 2014 drivers' and manufacturers' World Championships. They were designed and built by TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG), where the race team is based. TMG previously represented TOYOTA in World Rally and Formula 1, and was responsible for the design and operation of TOYOTA's TS020 Le Mans car in 1998-99. TMG now combines motorsport participation with work as a high-performance engineering services provider to third party companies, as well as the TOYOTA family.