TOYOTA RACING: LE MANS 24 HOURS, TWO-HOUR REPORT
TOYOTA Racing made a successful start to its very first race with a consistently fast performance in the opening two hours of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The #8 TS030 HYBRID of Stéphane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi took the rolling start from third with Stéphane at the wheel. Alex Wurz drove the opening stint for #7 as team-mates Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima watched from the pits.
On a mainly dry track, despite heavy morning rain, #8 lost a position on the opening lap and then swapped position with the other TS030 HYBRID after 20 minutes.
TOYOTA Racing’s first competitive pit stops came just after the half-hour, with both cars benefiting from fast getaways under electric power from the TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing.
After the team’s first-ever hour of racing, #7 and #8 were an impressive third and fourth. The starting drivers completed three stints behind the wheel, swapping at the third pit stop when Nicolas and Sébastien took over.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “This is a consistent and satisfying start for us. The crew performed well in their first competitive pit stops and it was very satisfying to see the TS030 HYBRIDs pulling away under electric power in a race for the first time.”
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima)
Hour 1 (Alex): 3rd (+44.655secs) / Hour 2 (Alex, Nicolas): 4th (+2mins 28.615secs)
Alex Wurz: “The start was okay. I was behind Stéphane and then was able to overtake him. After the first stop we were getting into the rhythm of the leading cars, who made a gap at the beginning and were able to maintain this. The car was a little difficult to drive at first, but then it improved with a better balance in the second and third stints. I was flat out and pushing like crazy.”
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Stéphane Sarrazin, Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi)
Hour 1 (Stéphane): 4th (+50.580secs) / Hour 2 (Stéphane, Sébastien): 5th (+2mins 42.705secs)
Stéphane Sarrazin: “I was surprised at the start because I think some competitors didn’t follow the race procedure; normally we have to be side by side. The car was quite sensitive during the first laps but it became better and I was regularly improving my lap times. I had really bad traffic and always in the fast corners; I wasn’t so lucky but I am sure it will be better next time. This first triple stint has been positive. We are now on the pace.”