TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will start the Six Hours of Nürburgring from the third row of the grid after qualifying for round four of the World Endurance Championship in Germany today.
This weekend’s event is one of two home races for the defending World Champions, alongside the Six Hours of Fuji in October, and the team has been fully focused on extracting maximum race performance from the TS040 HYBRID.
The #1 TS040 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will start from fifth place on an all-TOYOTA third row. The #2 of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway is alongside in sixth.
The 20-minute qualifying session, which sees two drivers from each car in action, took place on a dry track with air temperatures of 23°C as the weather continued to improve following a wet start to the event on Friday morning.
Anthony and Sébastien were the nominated drivers for the #1 car and completed a clean qualifying in front of a healthy crowd, finishing 2.216secs behind the pole position time of the #18 Porsche.
In the #2, Alex and Stéphane took the qualifying, with both drivers having significant experience of the Nürburgring. Alex is a previous Nürburg resident and competed many times in Formula 1, while Stéphane twice won here in LMP1, in 2007 and 2008.
Alex’s qualifying began with a trip across the grass on the exit of the final chicane of his flying lap, but subsequently posted two clean laps before handing over to Stéphane who had to contend with traffic on his first lap.
The team will now prepare its strategy for the race, which begins at 13.00 local time, with the target of returning to the podium.
TS040 HYBRID #1 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 3: 5th (1min 38.850secs), 23 laps
Qualifying: 5th (1min 38.689secs average)
Anthony Davidson: “We tried everything we could. Sébastien and I did four very good laps to get the maximum out of the car and the crew performed well. We can be happy with the job that we all did today as a team but it’s no surprise that we are fifth. There’s not a lot more we can do. Now we will push in the race and see what we can get.”
Sébastien Buemi: “I am quite pleased with what we did in qualifying and I am happy enough with my laps. Anthony and I had quite similar lap times so I don’t think there was a lot more in the car. At the end of the day we are where we are, so we need to push for the race. It is important to keep fighting even if we are not in an easy position.”
TS040 HYBRID #2 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
Free practice 3: 6th (1min 39.893secs), 23 laps
Qualifying: 6th (1min 39.371secs average)
Alex Wurz: “I made a mistake in the chicane which was unfortunate. I could have improved my average lap times without that. I could recover the car and return to the track without any damage but the tyres were gone for the second and third lap. Fifth and sixth is where we are with the two cars over one lap. In the race we are a bit closer so we will still be pushing and trying to get a strong result.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “Unfortunately I had two cars in front of me on my first flying lap with new tyres so I lost a lot of time. After that my car was difficult to drive and I didn’t manage a better lap time. Traffic is always a problem on a tight track like this. We will see tomorrow for the race but there was not a lot more we could do today.”