Cologne, Germany - Toyota Racing returns to the scene of its first victory for this weekend’s fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Six Hours of Sao Paulo.
A year ago, the #7 TS030 Hybrid of Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre earned Toyota Racing’s maiden win from pole position at the 4.309km Interlagos circuit, the first of three wins in the season’s final four races.
This weekend, after a 10-week summer break since finishing second at the Le Mans 24 Hours, the #8 TS030 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin flies the flag for Toyota Racing in Brazil.
All three drivers have previously raced at Interlagos in other categories, with Stéphane the only one to have competed in an LMP1 car at the anti-clockwise Sao Paulo track, winning the Le Mans Series title there in 2007.
With downforce requirements for the rest of the WEC season different to those at Le Mans, Toyota Racing brings a revised TS030 Hybrid to Brazil.
An updated aerodynamic package has been developed at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) to generate significantly increased downforce levels compared to the Le Mans-specification car, which was focused more on top speed.
The average speed for the TS030 Hybrid at Le Mans is close to 240km/h, while the shorter, slower tracks which make up the remainder of the WEC season have an average speed of around 180km/h.
The most significant changes include modifications to the front wheel arches, engine cover and rear wing while several other aerodynamic features have been fine-tuned for the different characteristics of the upcoming circuits.
The Toyota Hybrid System - Racing powertrain has also been optimised for the shorter six-hour races, reverting to sprint race settings after the endurance challenge of Le Mans.
Anthony and Sébastien took part in a two-day test at Lausitzring in eastern Germany earlier this month to validate the upgrades. A successful session saw the team complete around 1,500km, with promising results.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “It seems a long time since Le Mans but we have used this break to recover our energy and introduce an updated aerodynamic package which brings more downforce. We know we face a tough challenge to beat Audi but we take inspiration from last year’s great performance in Brazil. Those memories are still fresh in our minds and we will push extremely hard to achieve a similar result.”
Anthony Davidson (#8): “The TS030 Hybrid has changed quite a lot since Le Mans to give us more downforce, which will be important on a short track like Interlagos where grip is very important. Our test at Lausitzring went well; it was great to get back in the car after such a long break and the new package felt good as well. Sao Paulo has always been a great venue for a race and has decided many championship battles. The team had its first victory in the WEC there last year so it has happy memories for us. We know it will be a big challenge but hopefully we will be able to repeat that success this year.”
Sébastien Buemi (#8): “It’s exciting to be racing at Interlagos in the TS030 Hybrid and I can’t wait to experience the performance of our hybrid system at this track. Compared to Le Mans, Interlagos is a lot shorter so traffic will be a big factor in the race; this is where our hybrid boost can be a real advantage. I’m still smiling after our second place at Le Mans and there was a very positive mood during our test at Lausitzring, when we experienced the high-downforce package for the first time. It seems that we have made a good step with these improvements. It will not be easy to win in Sao Paulo but that is the goal we are working towards.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (#8): “I’ve raced at Interlagos previously in several categories, and I have won there in LMP2 so I have some good memories. It’s a fun track to drive on with a lot of undulation and some long, challenging corners. I’m really looking forward to this race, particularly as we have some updates on the car. It will be interesting to see how the changes feel during the first practice sessions, which I am sure will be very busy for us. Even though the WEC has taken a break since Le Mans, I have been busy with three races in the US which has kept me in shape. Now I can’t wait to get back to WEC action.”
Action at Interlagos gets under way on Friday with two 90-minute practice sessions (11.05 & 15.40 local time) while Saturday sees final practice (10.20-11.20) before 25 minutes of qualifying, starting at 15.10. The six-hour race starts at midday on Sunday.