THE END IS NEAR
Panasonic Toyota Racing entered the home stretch for 2006 with the start of its final test of the year at the Circuito Permanente de Jerez in Spain today. The team had the track to itself for the start of a three-day test.
Franck Montagny returned to the car and was joined by Toyota Young Driver Programme member Kohei Hirate to continue the team's evaluation of the 2007 Bridgestone tyres. Montagny and Hirate also worked on suspension set-ups as they continue to draw the maximum performance from the new rubber.
As well as tyre and set-up work, some software evaluation took place and the drivers also practiced several launches with the target of perfecting starts for 2007.
"Today's running was quite good. I worked well with the car and I am pretty happy with the work we did. We were expecting a few problems today because we were the only ones driving on the track. We thought we would have some graining of the tyres but that was not the case."
"The car worked well and I am pleased because it has improved quite a lot since I drove last Wednesday. We did a couple of long runs today and they seemed to go well, the car is quite steady and now we are looking forward to tomorrow."
"The whole day I didn't have any problems and the car was fun to drive. At the end I was a bit tired because it was very hard to keep performing at a high level. The conditions were different to last time so it is hard to compare but we found a good set-up for this tyre and for tomorrow I think the team can start from a good position."
"This is my second time testing with Toyota and I am feeling more comfortable within the team. From the first day I noticed the team works very well together. In these two tests I have learnt how to use the tyres and also how to gain time in the corners because it is quite different from the other cars I have driven. I have adapted to a Formula One style, which takes time to learn."
"I am sure this experience will help me next season in GP2, especially when it comes to the braking because this car is so strong under brakes. The other things I have learnt about, electronics and things like that are completely different to GP2 though."
Gerd Pfeiffer, Test Team Manager:
"Today we returned to our programme of testing next year's tyres. These last three tests of the year have followed pretty much the same pattern as we primarily try to learn more about the tyres while collecting set-up information in the process. The track conditions were good and both drivers managed quite a few laps."
"Franck brings a lot of experience and he is working well with the team already while Kohei is learning fast and showed today he can be consistent and quick. We now have only two days testing left this year and we are aiming to make the most of them."
Best lap time: 1m20.073s
Total laps: 79
Total distance: 349.8kms
Best lap time: 1m21.214s
Total laps: 82
Total distance: 363kms