Two 2013-specification TS030 HYBRID cars joined the official test day, where a full field took the only chance of the year to prepare on the circuit prior to the race week.
With a 24-hour race approaching, the team concentrated on long runs, with both cars completing more than 80 laps each, producing a combined total of 2,276km running for the two TS030 HYBRIDs.
The #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima worked on different aerodynamic set-ups, fine-tuning the car for the unique combination of long straights, chicanes and sweeping corners at Le Mans.
In the #8, Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin took on a programme of tyre and set-up evaluation, made even more intense by morning rain which left the track very slippery.
Both cars also took the chance to refine the settings of the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing, which charges its super capacitors in seven regulation-defined hybrid braking zones before delivering 300hp of boost automatically.
Heavy overnight and morning rain left the track extremely slippery for Alex and Stéphane, who started the session. Rain continued as Kazuki, then Nicolas took over the #7 and first Sébastien, then Anthony did stints in the #8 before lunch.
Midway through the afternoon session, with the rain having stopped, the track began to dry sufficiently for intermediate Michelin tyres, and lap times rapidly improved.
Nicolas, Kazuki then Alex completed stints behind the wheel of the #7 while Anthony, Stéphane, Sébastien then Anthony again drove the #8 in the afternoon.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “We are a stronger team 12 months after our first Le Mans and we have a stronger car. Today our target was to make the best use of the time for testing and we did that. Due to the weather we did not have the chance to do all the work we wanted today, but that was the same for everyone. The team worked well and the cars ran very reliably, which shows the progress we have made since last year. However, we have work to do to find improvements in the days ahead. We have already had many late nights and the team has worked incredibly hard so we are ready to make the final push.”
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima)
Morning: 4th (39 laps). Fastest lap: 3min 49.349secs (+3.072secs)
Afternoon: 6th (43 laps). Fastest lap: 3min 29.593secs (+7.010secs)
Alex Wurz: “That was an interesting and busy day for us. It’s nice to be back on the track although no-one was really happy about the wet conditions. But there’s nothing we can do about that and it is the same for all the teams. It was still useful because we gained some experience with the wet and intermediate tyres, and the car set-up in those conditions. When the track was dry I felt the car had a decent balance but I never had a clean lap on the slick tyres. Lap times don’t reflect that but nevertheless we still need to find some lap time.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “We did plenty of aerodynamic and set-up work, so we learned a lot. We had to deal with all kinds of weather with running in heavy then light rain, then on a drying track before it became completely dry. That was good for us to learn which tyre to use at which moment. However we would have preferred a completely dry session because we had a lot of things to test. It is difficult to know exactly where we are because we don’t know what other people are testing. The car was really reliable and we need to analyse the data to prepare for the race.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “I started in the wet but towards the end of the day I had some dry running so I experienced a variety of conditions. That was good experience for the race week. In the rain it was difficult because visibility was really bad with the spray. We had a lot of traffic too, but this is Le Mans so that is normal. Here traffic is a point you always have to consider and it needs to be well managed. I have enjoyed coming back to Le Mans; it is always nice to be here but this was not the kind of weather I wanted.”
TS030 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Stéphane Sarrazin, Sébastien Buemi)
Morning: 5th (40 laps). Fastest lap: 3min 50.903secs (+4.626secs)
Afternoon: 4th (45 laps). Fastest lap: 3min 27.581secs (+4.998secs)
Anthony Davidson: “It was a pleasure to be back on track at Le Mans but it was a quite difficult session with the weather conditions changing throughout. In the rain we worked on the set-up and we found a pretty good balance. I was happy with the lap times in those conditions, which were really tricky. Later in the afternoon I got back in the car and I’d been running in the dry for few laps to get a better idea of the balance of the car. Lap times were not a priority today the most important thing is to wait and see where we are in two weeks time.”
Sébastien Buemi: “We finally found some dry running later in the day but it was not as much as we hoped for. At least we could run reliably and get a lot of laps in, which helps us all get familiar with Le Mans again. With the conditions, the traffic and everything we did not have a perfect lap but we still have to make some improvements for the race to improve our chances. We did more than 1,150km so we have a lot of data to go through before the race week starts, so the team will be busy in the next days.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “It was quite a good day and the car ran very reliably. We ran in the wet, we ran in the dry and we completed our programme. So far everything has gone okay and we could do a lot of laps. This morning, when we started on wet track I was not so happy with the car balance but we improved it and in dry conditions it was much better. I am happy to be here with TOYOTA Racing feeling good. Now I am ready for the race.”