TOYOTA GAZOO Racing kicks off the second half of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season this weekend with a trip across the Atlantic for round five, the 6 Hours of Mexico.
The team has won two of the four races so far in 2017 and continues to challenge Porsche for the manufacturers’ World Championship. Going into the Mexican round, TOYOTA is 39.5 points behind in second, with a maximum of 44 points available each race weekend.
The #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López has been on pole position three times this season and the crew travels to Mexico targeting a first win of the year.
In the #8 TS050 HYBRID, Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima are fighting for the drivers’ World Championship following victories at Silverstone and Spa. They are 30 points behind the #Porsche 2 crew in the standings.
At 2,285m above sea level, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has much thinner air than most circuits, making it harder to generate downforce. So, as at the previous race at the Nürburgring in mid July, the team will use its high-downforce aerodynamic package.
The 4.304km circuit in Mexico City rejoined the WEC calendar in 2016 after a 25-year absence. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing earned a return to the podium in that race with its #6 car, which completed a remarkable recovery after missing most of practice due to an accident and subsequent monocoque change.
This year’s race represents Hisatake Murata’s first as Team President and the team is determined to start the non-European leg of the season with a positive result for both cars, prior to trips to the United States, Japan, China and Bahrain.
Hisatake Murata, Team President: “I am looking forward to the Mexico race; it is my first race as Team President so I would like to celebrate with a strong result. The team in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne has worked very hard since Nürburgring to prepare our TS050 HYBRIDs for Mexico and the other non-European circuits, which suit our car quite well. We are still fighting for both World Championships so we know it is important to score a lot of points in every race. That is our clear target for Mexico.”
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I really enjoyed racing in Mexico last year. It’s a tight and twisty track which makes it challenging with the traffic and overtaking is difficult, but I like the flow of the corners. I’m looking forward to the crowd because they are really enthusiastic and to see the stadium section full of fans is brilliant. I am sure it will be another close fight with Porsche and I hope we can come out on top.”
Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I am happy to be racing again in WEC after a long summer break. Mexico is the start of the second half of our season, so it is important for the team to perform well and score good points for the manufacturers’ World Championship. I think the car will be stronger than at the Nürburgring so I am optimistic we can challenge at the front.”
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “After our pole position and podium at the Nürburgring, we are really looking forward to Mexico. Based on last year’s race in Mexico I think the track suits our car really well, so I’m very much looking forward to it. As it’s a Latin place and not far from Argentina I think we will see many enthusiastic fans as well and I love the atmosphere with those guys.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8): “Mexico is a track which I really like so I am looking forward to going back there. The straight there is really long and it creates good overtaking possibilities. The stadium is also a great part of the circuit; when you enter it and see all the fans sitting in the grandstands it just feels amazing. After Nürburgring and Le Mans I really want to bounce back and fight for the win in Mexico.”
Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #8): “We are expecting to be in the fight for victories throughout the rest of the season, starting in Mexico. I didn’t race there last year as I had a rib injury so it will be my first proper taste of the circuit. We had a strong car there in 2016 and I think we will be even stronger this year. I want to race at the front and earn as many points as possible for the World Championship.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “Last year was my first visit to Mexico so I spent some time relaxing there after the race and I discovered I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the country. It’s a nice place to be and also the track is an interesting one. We are still challenging for both World Championships so we want a clean race and two cars on the podium. We will push as hard as we can for this.”
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in 6 Hours of Mexico:
2016 #5: Qualifying 5th; Race DNF. #6: Qualifying 6th; Race 3rd.