Toyota Racing makes successful Le Mans debut

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Toyota Motorsport GmbH

TOYOTA Racing’s pair of TS030 HYBRID cars achieved another milestone today by successfully participating in the traditional test day to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours on 16-17 June.

#7 Toyota Racing Toyota TS 030 - Hybrid: Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima
#7 Toyota Racing Toyota TS 030 - Hybrid: Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

For the first time, TOYOTA Racing had two cars in action, having completed all testing so far with only the #7 car. A brief shakedown for the #8 car on Friday capped a huge effort from the team at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) to complete the car in time for the test.

Both TS030 HYBRIDs, displaying their new TOYOTA hybrid-blue livery, were in action immediately when the lights went green at 9am, beginning another new chapter for the team with its first multi-car test.

The complete driver line-up for car #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima took part in the test while the #8 featured Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi.

It was decided that Stéphane Sarrazin should miss today’s activities to give him additional time to recover from cuts and bruises sustained in a cycling accident. Stéphane will return to driving duties for TOYOTA Racing for the Le Mans race week.

One priority for today’s test was for Le Mans newcomers Kazuki and Sébastien to complete the mandatory 10 laps required to allow participation in the race. This was comfortably achieved in the morning.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “Today was a significant step for us because it was our first chance to see the car on track against our opposition at Le Mans. It’s hard to judge lap times but it certainly strengthens our racing spirit. Overall we are satisfied to complete a full day’s running with both cars without any significant issue; the only interruptions came with some minor bodywork damage. Unfortunately we only had five drivers with us following Stéphane’s accident. But he’s an experienced driver so we have no concerns; he’ll be on top form for the race I’m sure.”

Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: “To see the TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing on track at Le Mans is a day we have been anticipating for a long time. We are continuously adjusting and improving the system, so each test day brings a step forward and that was true again today. The combination of downshifting, braking and charging is really working in harmony; it’s like an elaborate dance. I would like to express my thanks to all the guys at Cologne and Higashifuji who have worked so hard to prepare for this. From a personal point of view, today really brought back memories of my last time working as part of a TOYOTA team here. I was engine engineer for the #33 TS010 back in 1992 when we finished in second place, so after a 20-year break it’s great to be back.”

Car #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima)
Fastest lap: 3mins 27.204s (Alex Wurz) \Total laps: 83

Alex Wurz: “Generally this was a good test day for us. It is positive that we went through the program we planned and even did some more laps than expected. We have to always remember that we as a team are completely new in this game so we have plenty to learn; this is just the first step. Now we have our homework to do to get ready for the TS030 HYBRID’s first race. There is so much data to analyse but this is what I enjoy doing, and the team do as well. The Le Mans story for 2012 has begun and so far so good.”

Nicolas Lapierre: “It was very good to get the TS030 HYBRID on track today and particularly nice to try the hybrid system on the Mulsanne Straight. The car ran without any major issue so we could try a lot of different settings concerning tyres, aero, mechanical set-up and also the hybrid system. This mileage was very important for us because it’s the only chance we have to drive here before race week. So far the team has done a great job and we achieved what we expected to. It is difficult to compare lap times however the important thing is that we are more or less where we expected to be. Now we are looking forward to a very interesting race.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “Today we had a satisfying start at Le Mans. I experienced a lot of traffic this morning but this is a common problem for every driver; actually one of the most important issues is to manage the traffic. I am still learning in that regard but I think I did a reasonable job. The new surface on the track makes the car very comfortable to drive and our speed was good. It’s my first time here and I am quite impressed. I knew the lay-out already from the driving simulator at TMG but it’s great to experience it for the first time for real. As running time is relatively limited today for each driver I made sure I enjoyed every lap.”

Car #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi)
Fastest lap: 3mins 28.298s (Sébastien Buemi)
Total laps: 73

Anthony Davidson: “Our program went well and we achieved what we wanted to. Personally it was great to be back at Le Mans, especially with this new car and the hybrid technology. The car responded well and I felt we had pretty good speed which allowed us to set some competitive lap times. It is nice for all the team to finally get to Le Mans and see two cars in action; it’s a good reward for all the effort they have put in. The TS030 HYBRID is already pretty well balanced and gave me confidence to push early in the day so that’s a good platform for us heading into race week; first impressions are encouraging.”

Sébastien Buemi: “Having quite a lot of laps around this track in the driving simulator at TMG helped me adapt straight away. Conditions were not easy, with rain on one part of the circuit and a dry track on another. I like this circuit, in particular the Porsche corner. But it is not easy to deal with the traffic; speed difference compared to the GT class is quite big. Overall the day has been positive and I am happy to have set the third fastest time of the morning so the car seems to be on a good pace. We have been able to cover a lot of kilometres and gain valuable information which will help us to prepare the race week.”

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Series LEMANS
Tags buemi, hybrid, la sarthe, murata, toyota, ts030, wec, wurz