TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s preparations for the new FIA World Endurance Championship season moved up a gear with the all-new TS050 HYBRID making its public debut at Paul Ricard in southern France today.
The Prologue test sees all WEC teams come together in the south of France for a two-day group test and free entry meant a large crowd on a sunny day to see the 2016-specification cars in action for the first time.
To optimise its busy pre-season testing and development schedule, TOYOTA entered one TS050 HYBRID in the Prologue and this was shared by all six race drivers over the course of the two days.
On Friday it was the turn of the #5 crew, with Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima putting the new car through its paces, using the low-downforce aerodynamic package which is designed specifically for Le Mans.
They handed over to the #6 drivers, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, for Saturday when the high-downforce specification was used.
Important analysis was carried out to understand the different characteristics of each aerodynamic package, giving the team back in Cologne plenty of data upon which to fine-tune the TS050 HYBRID.
With plenty of work to do before the season starts next month at Silverstone, it was a busy two days for the team, with tyre behaviour and validation of the various FIA timing and monitoring systems also on the agenda.
Outright fastest lap times in testing do not necessarily give a complete picture of relative performance, so the team will now analyse the data to understand the various lap times and stints in more detail.
Toshio Sato, Team President: “It was a pleasure to see so many fans here at Paul Ricard today, but I have been even more satisfied to see our TS050 HYBRID on track with our competitors for the first time. It has been a very intense period of preparation so I would like to thank everyone in the team for their hard work to get us to this point. The first race of the season is getting closer and our preparations are almost complete. The Prologue was an important milestone and we achieved our main targets in this test, which were to understand our different aerodynamic packages and continue our intense preparations for the start of the season. I am content with how the two days have gone, and particularly happy to see our strong team spirit. We will see at Silverstone where everyone stands; we still have work to do and we are flat-out to put ourselves in the strongest possible position to start the season.”