TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will start the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas from fourth and sixth after qualifying for the sixth round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Austin, Texas.
Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, who are second in the drivers’ World Championship, qualified in fourth place in their #6 TS050 HYBRID. Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will start Saturday’s race from sixth in the #5.
With air temperatures hitting 33°C, the TS050 HYBRIDs competed in a 20-minute qualifying session during which two drivers from each car took part, with the grid decided on the average fastest lap time.
Kazuki and Mike began the session in their respective cars, with Mike completing an additional flying lap after encountering traffic on his first. His second effort put the #6 in fifth, with the #5 just behind.
Kamui also had traffic on his lap but recorded a strong time in the #6 while things did not go to plan for Sébastien in the #5. He twice had flying laps deleted after exceeding the track limits at turn nine, giving him no chance to improve position.
Track limits violations were a regular talking point and a similar offence for the #2 Porsche saw the #6 TS050 HYBRID elevated to fourth in the final seconds, with an average time 1.376secs behind the pole-position-winning Audi #7.
Throughout the season TOYOTA has displayed stronger race pace compared to qualifying and the team is looking forward to continuing this trend in Austin. The race begins at 5pm local time which means it starts in daylight and ends in darkness.
TS050 HYBRID #5 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 3: 5th (1min 46.883secs), 30 laps
Qualifying: 6th (1min 48.584secs average)
Sébastien Buemi: “I am very frustrated because my laps were deleted. I couldn’t hear the information on the radio the first time so I didn’t know I had a problem. It’s my fault at the end of the day because I went too wide, so sorry to the team. The car didn’t feel as good as this morning so we will try to work on this for tomorrow.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “It was a tricky qualifying. The track conditions were not as good as this morning and it was difficult to put everything together. It seems like the track changes for every session so it’s not easy. Anyway, sixth is not a bad position to start the race. We need to prepare in detail and make the most of the car.”
TS050 HYBRID #6 (Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi)
Free practice 3: 6th (1min 47.347secs). 26 laps
Qualifying: 4th (1min 47.218secs average)
Mike Conway: “We made it to fourth which is a decent result. It was a pity I got traffic on my first flying lap because that really hurt us. With these track temperatures, the first lap was the key one but I was happy to get the time that I did with my second. Kamui did a good lap at the end as well so we can be pretty happy.”
Kamui Kobayashi: “It was not an easy session due to the heat; the track conditions were changing quite a lot. We managed to get fourth which is promising for tomorrow so I am satisfied. The target is as many points as possible and we are always stronger in the race than in qualifying so I’m looking forward to it.”
Free practice 3 results:
1st #8 Audi (di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis) 1min 45.719secs 28 laps
2nd #1 Porsche (Bernhard/Webber/Hartley) +0.332secs 24 laps
3rd #2 Porsche (Dumas/Jani/Lieb) +0.361secs 28 laps
4th #7 Audi (Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer) +0.573secs 30 laps
5th #5 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1.164secs 30 laps
6th #6 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1.628secs 26 laps
1st #7 Audi (Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer) 1min 45.842
2nd #8 Audi (di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis) +0.141secs
3rd #1 Porsche (Bernhard/Webber/Hartley) +0.718secs
4th #6 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1.376secs
5th #2 Porsche (Dumas/Jani/Lieb) +1.489secs
6th #5 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +2.742secs