The team spent three days at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France for the first full test of the TS030 HYBRID, following a three-day roll-out at the same circuit earlier this month. Using the a configuration of the track which includes the complete Mistral Straight, all three race drivers – Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima – had the opportunity to test the new car, which features the THS-R (TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing) powertrain.
The test programme built on the positive work already achieved during the TS030 HYBRID’s roll-out, when systems checks and basic set-up analysis was carried out. This week the team had many areas to study, including the THS-R powertrain, particularly during longer stints, while taking the first steps towards optimising aerodynamic and mechanical set-up. In addition, Michelin tyre compounds on the TS030 HYBRID were evaluated for the first time.
In total, the TS030 HYBRID completed over 2,000km and demonstrated a satisfying level of performance and reliability. TOYOTA Racing’s next test is planned for mid-February.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “We can be pleased with the outcome of this test. It has gone smoothly and delivered a lot of very useful data which will help us to prepare for our first season back in endurance racing. Of course, there are many challenges when introducing an innovative technology such as a hybrid powertrain in motorsport but I have been very impressed with how the team has approached this test and the results are very encouraging.”
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “Although we are a little behind schedule in terms of total mileage we have made very good use of our track time. It’s important at this stage to give a first indication to our tyre partner Michelin about the development direction needed for the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID and this has been done together with other performance developments. At the same time the pace is increasing as our drivers explore closer to the boundaries of the performance envelope of our package. We see clearly an acceleration of our development rate based on their indications. This gives a lot of push and dynamic to our track operation; it’s an exciting time to be a TOYOTA Racing engineer.”
Alex Wurz: “Obviously it’s nice to be back in the car. We are continuously evaluating and improving, so I am happy with these three days. We are working hard and making good progress since the roll-out. During this test I have worked on the set-up, drivability and traction control; we are just beginning to work on tyre evaluations. Of course I am enjoying this chance to drive the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. More and more we test, more and more we find things to improve: that’s positive. We realise we have to work hard because you have to work on the details; I am a perfectionist.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “The test went well. I had the opportunity to do longer stints and it’s great to cover more laps; we are becoming more familiar with the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. The weather conditions were perfect and consistent when I drove so we saw how the car reacts to our changes. I did some work on the Michelin tyres and my first impressions were good. Generally I feel better and better at the wheel; we are evolving in the right direction, especially on the hybrid system which we continue to optimise. We all know more about the car and what we have to do to improve.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “It was exciting to jump into the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID for the first time and finally drive it for real after a few sessions in virtual reality on the TMG simulator. The car has a lot of potential and gives the driver confidence, which is impressive considering the early stage of development. The hybrid system is very interesting; it feels quite natural and certainly gives a nice boost when it kicks in. We have made a good start to our testing programme but there is still plenty of work to do so I am looking forward to spending even more time in the car in the future.”