During the 2012 season, Nicolas Lapierre experienced the top of the podium three times, giving to TOYOTA Racing its first wins in its debut FIA World Endurance Championship season. As a team member since the very first test of the TS030 HYBRID, the French driver will battle again for victories in 2013.
It is sometimes said ‘a year to learn and a year to win’, but the team already had three wins in 2012…
“The experience gained in 2012 was very positive. Nobody expected such a good level of competitiveness at the end of the season. We learnt a lot. The disappointment remains our Le Mans 24 Hour race, when we had to stop early. But we knew it would not be easy to see the finish line in the first participation with a brand new car.”
New season and new aims? What is your approach of 2013?
“For 2013, we still have some questions to be solved before Le Mans. This event is very demanding and once again it will not be an easy race. But we’re working hard for it! Concerning the WEC races, we are in a good position. I even think some people may consider us favorites in the six-hour races versus Audi. We enter this new season in a positive mood. We are in February, two months before the first race and we already have a good car, I think, which puts us further ahead than we were at this point last year. For sure there is still much work to be done. If we improved our car, Audi certainly did the same. In any case, we will start the season better prepared and more serene than in 2012 but remaining very humble.”
Starting your second season with TOYOTA Racing, how do you feel in this “young” team?
“Everything is easier now. When I joined the team, I was far from knowing everyone. We had to learn to work together. It’s a big team and now I feel much more comfortable and better integrated. The team has made positive progress and we feel now a certain kind of solidarity between us, which is quite impressive with so many people from all around the world. Today, clearly, everyone works in the same direction. I started to feel this already at the end of last season. Of course, the good results helped make people felt closer.”
Did the first runs with the updated version of the TS030 HYBRID meet your expectations?
“We took a step forward. From the first laps the feeling is positive. Last year some questions remained open and some things remained to be solved. But the basic work done on the car was excellent, which allowed us to go deeper into details. Today, we are able to focus on the details and this could make the difference. In the cockpit, for example, the control devices are much easier and the driving position has improved. All these things that may seem to be small details, if you put them together, can make you faster.”