TOYOTA Racing took its first pole position thanks to a brilliant lap from Alex Wurz in qualifying for the Six Hours of Sao Paulo at Interlagos, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
In only its third race, the TS030 HYBRID, which Alex shares with Nicolas Lapierre, was 0.784 seconds faster than the competition to earn top spot on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
The team played a strategic waiting game in qualifying, remaining in the pits until only six minutes from the end. But Alex wasted no time in taking top spot with his first flying lap and he improved his time immediately with his next effort.
Today’s result marks a milestone in the development of hybrid powertrains; it is the first time a super capacitor-based system has earned pole position for a major international race.
The super capacitor in the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing is charged in five designated braking zones around the Interlagos circuit to deliver a significant power boost later in the lap.
Earlier today, the team used this morning’s final one-hour practice session to optimize the set-up of the TS030 HYBRID. Nicolas started the session before handing over to Alex for the final 15 minutes.
Alex used the time to prepare for qualifying, although heavy traffic around the relatively tight Interlagos track denied him a clear lap and a chance to demonstrate the true one-lap pace which was very evident later in the day.
Following Saturday morning’s warm-up (08.00-08.20) the six-hour race begins at midday with a rolling start.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre)
Free practice 3: 3rd (1min 23.473secs), 22 laps
Qualifying: 1st (1min 22.363secs), 4 laps
Alex Wurz: “Qualifying was really cool. We expected a really tough fight, especially as the car felt quite nervous in this morning’s practice. But the team did a good job on the set-up before qualifying and the car was very fast. The hybrid system was just amazing; it gave a big kick coming out of corners. Obviously it is a long race but to get pole position is a great feeling and it shows the car is very competitive. I am optimistic but don’t forget this is only our third race; it will be a difficult race against strong competition but we will go full attack tomorrow.”
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “This is a fantastic result and I want to congratulate everyone involved in TOYOTA Racing’s first pole position. To qualify on pole and to do so by such a margin in just our third race is a tremendous achievement. The team chose the right strategy for qualifying and Alex delivered a great lap. It was a very proud moment for all of us to see the chequered flag fly with a TOYOTA in P1 on the timing screens. Still, today is qualifying and we have a long race ahead of us tomorrow. That is when the trophies are presented so we need to stay focused and maintain this level of performance in order to fight for the top step of the podium.”