Toyota racing on the pace at fuji speedway
Kazuki Nakajima returns to the #7 TS030 HYBRID this week for the first time since helping TOYOTA Racing score its maiden podium finish, at Silverstone in August.
He joins the race-winning line-up of Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre, bringing extensive knowledge of Fuji Speedway on which he has raced twice already this year in Super GT.
The trio set the fastest time in first practice before narrowly missing out on that honour in the afternoon session, finishing 0.004secs down in second place.
This week's event marks a homecoming for the TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing, which was developed just a few kilometres away from Fuji Speedway, at the Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre.
After the seven designated hybrid braking zones in Bahrain, there are four at Fuji Speedway for the 300hp TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing, including the final corner which leads on to an epic 1.475km start-finish straight.
Kazuki spent most of the morning practice behind the wheel, setting the fastest lap before handing over to Nicolas, who concluded a trouble-free session.
Nicolas continued in the TS030 HYBRID at the beginning of the 90-minute afternoon practice, concentrating on long stints as dark clouds began to gather.
But the rain held off as Alex took over with half an hour remaining he completed a successful stint despite minor contact in traffic at the very end of the session which caused no significant damage.
A final one-hour practice session at Fuji Speedway begins on Saturday at 09.25, before qualifying from 14.00 to 14.20. Following warm-up on Sunday morning (07.55-08.15) the six-hour race begins at 11.00 with a rolling start.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 1: 1st (1min 28.809secs), 32 laps
Free practice 2: 2nd (1min 28.466secs), 51 laps
Alex Wurz: "I only drove two short stints at the end of the day most of the work today was done by Nico and Kazuki. I was just staying in the groove. I usually work on the race set-up so I did that today and it went well. We still have to optimise a little bit but we are not looking too bad. This track is always very technical, very difficult. It's always a compromise because the car is never prefect. It's a chasing game but as long as we stay calm we will be in decent shape for the race."
Nicolas Lapierre: "It was good day and we had two positive practice sessions. I had my first long stint here so it was good to experience the tyre degradation and feel the difference between full fuel and low fuel. At some point I was running together with an Audi so we could see we are very closely matched it is very competitive here. Fuji seems to be a track where the gap between cars is smaller than usual so it is going to be a very tight race. We also saw in the last sector that you can make up a lot of time in traffic but it very twisty and tight so you can also have contact. Overall I am happy and we're looking quite okay right now."
Kazuki Nakajima: "It was a good morning the car looks competitive and we tried different set-ups. We worked on maximising the car performance and had no issues, everything is going well. It's good to drive at Fuji Speedway again and even on a Friday there are quite a lot of fans here so there's a really nice atmosphere. I think our speed today is pretty good compared to Wednesday and the lap time is a bit quicker. We have not changed too much on the car so I think the track is improving as well. We need to continue our preparations and think about the race, so still for this we need some more set-up improvements."
A technical explanation of the TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing is attached to this press release.
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 returns to endurance racing and the FIA World Endurance Championship 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. 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. www.toyotahybridracing.com
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