TOYOTA Racing is ready for the highlight of its FIA World Endurance Championship season, the 90th anniversary running of the Le Mans 24 Hours which takes place at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France next week (22-23 June).
A year after making its race debut at Le Mans in 2012, TOYOTA Racing returns with two cars; the #7 for Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima plus the #8 for Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin.
For the first time both driver line-ups will benefit from the 2013-specification TS030 HYBRID, which raced for the first time at Spa in the hands of the #7 crew.
Seven test sessions, including the official Le Mans test day last weekend, have shown the updated TS030 HYBRID is a significant step forward in terms of reliability and performance.
The preparation programme has included several successful endurance tests, designed to push the TS030 HYBRID and the team to the limit over 30 hours of continuous running.
The heart of TOYOTA Racing’s challenge is the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing powertrain, which recuperates energy under braking in the seven designated hybrid recovery zones before automatically delivering 300hp of boost.
A busy day at the official Le Mans test day on Sunday saw the team complete over 2,000km refining set-up of the TS030 HYBRID and its powertrain, as well as evaluating tyres, ahead of this week’s event.
Last year the #7 fought a thrilling battle at the front and led the race at six hours before ultimately retiring due to an engine problem, while the #8 crashed heavily whilst lapping a slower car.
Although this year’s Le Mans is just the second for TOYOTA Racing, it marks the 15th time TOYOTA has entered an official team in the legendary race. The company’s best result is second place, achieved in 1992, 1994 and 1999.
It will be a challenge to improve on those runners-up positions but TOYOTA Racing intends to fight at the front with the aim of standing atop the podium after 24 hours’ racing.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “We are very much looking forward to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Last year’s Le Mans was our first race with the TS030 HYBRID so we expected to face some difficulties; this year we are better prepared and we expect to demonstrate that. Leading Le Mans last year, and winning three WEC races, has given us a taste for success. It would be a dream for us to stand on the top of the podium at such a legendary race. We are facing a very tough opponent in Audi so it is hard to be confident, but we know we have done everything in our power to be ready and we will give 100% effort to succeed. It is a very long week and many things can happen so we must be ready for the challenges to come.”