TOYOTA GAZOO Racing put the all-new TS050 HYBRID car through its paces today in the first two practice sessions for the 6 Hours of Silverstone, the opening round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The #5 car of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima set the sixth fastest lap of the day. Kamui Kobayashi is making his TOYOTA debut in WEC this weekend and, alongside his #6 colleagues Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway, was fourth quickest.
The day was overshadowed by sad news from Japan, where earthquakes in the Kumamoto Prefecture caused loss of life and destruction. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing sends its profound sympathy and good wishes to all those affected.
When track action began at lunchtime, the British weather gave all teams an additional challenge. First practice began on a damp track after persistent morning showers, while air temperatures of just 9°C meant the track took time to dry.
After a quiet opening half hour as the conditions slowly improved, a busy schedule of set-up comparisons and tyre analysis began. As well as those standard Friday tasks, today’s sessions provided more valuable running time for the team to further understand and fine-tune the all-new TS050 HYBRID.
Low temperatures continued into second practice but the track remained dry until the final few minutes, allowing both cars to complete a productive 90 minutes’ work.
Despite a 7.5% reduction of fuel energy for 2016, the efficient TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing powertrain helped the TS050 HYBRIDs to improve on the lap times set at this stage of the event last year.
The fastest lap from a TOYOTA was 1min 41.523, 1.226secs quicker than the team’s best effort on Friday last year. At the end of three hours of practice, the two TS050 HYBRIDs completed a total of 129 laps, 761km.
Tomorrow’s qualifying session is the first truly competitive action of the season and the team is in good spirits, confident it can give itself a strong platform on which to fight to maintain its run of podium finishes at Silverstone.
TS050 HYBRID #5 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 1: 3rd (1min 43.765secs), 29 laps
Free practice 2: 6th (1min 42.963secs), 33 laps
Anthony Davidson: “It’s good to be back in the car at Silverstone; it’s a great track and I enjoy every lap that I do around here. Today we had limited running in the dry so we focused on race preparations and maximised the set-up tuning. We got through all specs of tyres and improved our understanding of the car balance. Tonight is going to be a busy one as we work through all the data; there is a lot more to come.”
Sébastien Buemi: “It was a mixed-up day weather-wise like normal here at Silverstone. We couldn’t do so many dry laps but that’s the same for everyone. Like always we will try to analyse the data and prepare the best car for tomorrow. We will change quite a lot for qualifying. We still don’t have a clear idea where we stand compared to the competition as we didn’t focus purely on lap times. Tomorrow evening at this time we will have a better idea.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “Today’s practice went reasonably well despite the weather this morning and we did a lot of work which will help us during the rest of the weekend. It’s always a pleasure to drive an LMP1 car here at Silverstone and I particularly enjoyed my first flying laps here with the TS050 HYBRID. Now we will work hard to find improvements before qualifying.”
TS050 HYBRID #6 (Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi)
Free practice 1: 5th (1min 45.936secs), 26 laps
Free practice 2: 4th (1min 41.523secs), 41 laps
Stéphane Sarrazin: “The car looks good and it’s the first race for our TS050 HYBRID so we are excited. It’s great to be back at a race weekend; testing is good but we are all waiting for the first race. We worked quite well today in both sessions although the weather was not so easy and we had to try all the different tyres. We can still improve a lot but we have a good basis.”
Mike Conway: “It was good to get a dry session this afternoon after the rain this morning. We didn’t run low fuel so I think there is more to come from our car in terms of lap times. Porsche looks quick so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in qualifying. I think we are okay but it’s so hard to tell. I’m looking forward to finding out over the weekend.”
Kamui Kobayashi: “It was typical Silverstone weather; it was not a surprise that we had a bit of rain. But it was my first time to drive with the TS050 HYBRID at Silverstone, which is a really fun track, and I enjoyed that. I am happy to be here and I think we are making good progress. We have the potential to improve the car so let’s see tomorrow what we can do.”