The team heads to Belgium in high spirits, and in the lead of the World Championship, after starting the season with victory and its first-ever one-two finish at the Six Hours of Silverstone on 20 April.
That marked a highly-successful debut for the new TS040 HYBRID, which at 1,000PS delivers more power than its predecessor whilst simultaneously using 25% less fuel thanks to its hybrid system, advanced aerodynamics and other efficiencies.
Spa-Francorchamps is just 120km away from the team’s base at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany and is considered one of two home races on the 2014 calendar, alongside Fuji Speedway.
All TMG employees have been given the chance to attend the race and will be cheering on the two Le Mans-specification TS040 HYBRID cars as they look to build on a perfect weekend last time out at Silverstone.
Once again, the #7 TS040 HYBRID will be piloted by Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima, with Silverstone race winners Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi driving the #8.
A two-day weekend format ensures a packed schedule for the team, with a pair of two-hour practice sessions (09.00 & 14.15) preceding Friday’s qualifying session (20.00). With the race starting at 14.30 on Saturday, the closing stages will take place in darkness.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “Along with Fuji Speedway, Spa is a home race for us so we are very motivated to get a result for all our employees and fans that will be there supporting us. I am sure it will be another exciting race after such a close and unpredictable battle throughout the weekend at Silverstone. This is great for the championship and exactly what the fans and teams want to see. We had a very successful event at Silverstone. But Spa is another race so we have to give everything to extract the maximum performance and continue the successful start to the season. We are motivated and ready to push.”
Alex Wurz (TS040 HYBRID #7): “Silverstone was an important step for the team, not just because we got the result but because we could learn more about the TS040 HYBRID and how to get the best out of it. This new generation of LMP1 cars are very complex so there’s a lot of work to do during a race weekend. With all on-track activities squeezed into two days at Spa, it will be a very intense time for the team. We need to focus and take our time to get everything right so we can fight at the front. We will have a lot of fans and TMG members at Spa so we will push like crazy to give them a result to celebrate.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I really enjoy racing at Spa; it is always a highlight of the season for me. This year will be particularly interesting as we have four-wheel drive so I cannot wait to experience this. It looks like all three LMP1 manufacturers are very similar in performance terms so we can expect another big fight this weekend. We made a perfect start to our season at Silverstone and it was nice to stand on the podium with our team-mates in car #8. The target at Spa is obviously to achieve a similar result. We will be pushing as hard as possible and I am sure we can do it.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS040 HYBRID #7): “It is good to be racing again so soon after Silverstone, especially after such a strong result for the team. We learnt a lot about the car and the competition at Silverstone and this will help us prepare for this weekend’s race. There is always a chance of rain at Spa and we saw in the last race how this can change the race, so we not only have to focus on car set-up and tyres; we have to keep an eye on the weather forecast too. But if it rains or not, I think it will be another exciting weekend so I hope we have another big crowd to enjoy it.”
Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #8): “Spa is a classic track and one I really enjoy. It has been modified over the years but it remains a brilliant circuit to drive, especially in a prototype. I’m still buzzing from the Silverstone victory and can’t wait to get back to the track again, so it’s good there was only a short break between the two races. We made the best possible start to the season and that gives us a lot of confidence, however we know we are in a tough fight so we need to target another perfect weekend in terms of preparation.”
Nicolas Lapierre (TS040 HYBRID #8): “I am a big fan of Spa and I even raced there at the 24 hours last year, just for fun. So I can’t wait to be there again, especially with a car like the TS040 HYBRID; I expect it will be a great experience. This is the last race for everyone before Le Mans so it is an important weekend and we want to not only get a good result but also get ourselves ready for June. It was great for me to win my first race with the #8 crew; now I am determined to experience this feeling again. It’s going to be another hard battle but I am ready.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS040 HYBRID #8): “Before Silverstone it was difficult to know how competitive each of the cars would be. Now we know our TS040 HYBRID has the performance to win races, but our competitors are very close. This makes it really exciting for the fans and quite challenging for the team. But we like this kind of competition and we’re giving our maximum effort to win again this weekend. It’s always a special experience to be driving at Spa and if we see the same kind of overtaking as we did at Silverstone, it will be a fantastic spectacle.”