Stephen Errity, WEC Correspondent
Straight away at Friday's practice session for the 6 Hours of Silverstone, attention was focused on the new post-Le Mans aero package for the Toyota TS030. The Japanese team's Cologne-based engineers appeared to have found a way to give the petrol hybrid car a full-width rear wing, despite this being theoretically banned under the regulations.
Toyota's engineering chief Pascal Vasselon was clearly proud of the loophole the team has found, explaining: “It's simple; it’s not a rear wing. The rear wing is as per the regulations, what you see on the side is just the wheel arch. We must have openings on the wheels, so we have designed a wheel arch that means, when the hole is open, it looks like that. When you open the wheel arch, it has the shape you see. The ‘winglets’ you see are the rearward part of the wheel arch. Nothing prevents you from adding a second endplate.”
There was no indication that Audi would either be copying the design, or protesting its legality – its technical director Ralf Juttner said: “Yes it is a very clever interpretation. They found a hole and made proper use of it, which is fine. That is what they were supposed to do, and we do the same.”
Toyota may have found some much needed magic by the end of the weekend in their second FIA World Endurance Championship race. On Saturday, they were a bit behind the two Audis, but qualifying driver Nicolas Lapierre explained, “We changed to dry tyres a little too early and played it safe, but we're still missing a little bit of performance.”
In Sunday’s race, the Toyota trio of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima landed their first podium finish, and they sat the fastest lap of the race in their Toyota TS030 hybrid.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President commented on their second place finish: “I am happy with this result. Not only did we prove the speed of the TS030 HYBRID by setting the fastest lap of the race and finishing on the podium in just our second race, we also had a completely trouble-free race. This is a credit to everyone here at the track but also those back at TMG, at Motor Sport Division in Higashifuji and TMC’s Hybrid Division.”