TOUGH QUALIFYING FOR TOYOTA GAZOO RACING IN SHANGHAI

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will start the third round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) from fourth and fifth following qualifying for the 4 Hours of Shanghai today.

Kamui Kobayashi set the team’s fastest single lap of the qualifying session with a time of 1min 46.513secs, which was 3.805secs slower than last year’s best time in qualifying. That demonstrated the effect of the maximum success handicap imposed on the TS050 HYBRIDs via restrictions on hybrid power, fuel usage and weight.

The #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui and José María López was the leading TS050 HYBRID in fourth place, 1.343secs behind the pole position-winning Rebellion #1. Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley earned fifth place in their #8 TS050 HYBRID, a further 0.945secs adrift.

Today’s result ended a streak of 10 consecutive pole positions for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and the TS050 HYBRID dating back to Spa-Francorchamps in May 2018, the longest unbeaten qualifying run in WEC history.

Despite facing an uphill struggle to fight for pole position thanks to the success handicap, both TS050 HYBRID crews pushed hard from the beginning of qualifying, under blue skies at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit.

Kamui was at the wheel of the #7 for its first flying lap and set the fastest first sector of the session, while Kazuki began qualifying in the #8.

In order to have the best possible chance in Sunday’s race, neither car took fresh tyres for the second driver. Mike completed a clean lap to take fourth place but Brendon encountered heavy traffic, forcing him to abandon his first lap, and with worn tyres could not improve on fifth.

Despite the qualifying defeat, the team will fight to deliver a strong result on the TS050 HYBRID’s final race in China and intends to optimise race strategy, pit stops and tyre selection to deliver the consistent performance needed to pressurise the non-hybrid LMP1 cars for the podium.

Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “We knew qualifying would be tough and fourth and fifth was as expected. Potentially we could have been a little quicker but we protected our tyres for the race. It’s not going to be easy tomorrow but we will do our very best and see how it ends up after four hours. We don’t have the ultimate pace but if anyone has any issues we need to be there to take advantage.”

Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “As you can see from the results it was a hard session for us. We knew already the likely result for our cars before the start of qualifying, it was a fight between our TS050 HYBRIDs to get on the second row because we couldn’t challenge for pole position. We did a good job on our car to get fourth and now we need to focus on executing a clean race.”

Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “It was a very difficult qualifying for us. We did our best but compared to the sister car we missed a little bit of lap time, and the gap was too big to the pole position car. We need to look at the data and see where we can improve. I don’t think we maximised the performance on our car so we will work on that before the race.”

Brendon Hartley (TS050 HYBRID #8): “We knew we couldn’t get pole position so we decided to keep one set of new tyres for the race. I had traffic on my first lap, someone came out of the pits directly in front of me, so I had to abort. That left me with only one attempt and I made a couple of small errors. We have put all our focus this week on the race so hopefully we can fight; we will be doing our best to challenge.”

Free Practice 3 Results
1st #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  1min 47.184secs 28 laps
2nd #5 Ginetta (King/Hanley/Orudzhev)

+1.009secs

27 laps
3rd #6 Ginetta (Robertson/Simpson/Smith) +1.496secs 24 laps
4th #1 Rebellion (Senna/Menezes/Nato)    +2.266secs 23 laps
5th #29 Team Nederland (v. Eerd/v. d. Garde/de Vries) +2.453secs 26 laps
6th #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing (Tung/Aubry/Stevens) +2.564secs 27 laps
10th #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +3.293secs 25 laps
Qualifying results (average lap time)
1st #1 Rebellion (Senna/Menezes/Nato)    1min 45.892secs        
2nd #6 Ginetta (Robertson/Simpson/Smith) +1.200secs
3rd #5 Ginetta (King/Hanley/Orudzhev) +1.217secs
4th #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  +1.343secs
5th #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing  +2.288secs
6th #42 Cool Racing (Lapierre/Borga/Coigny) +2.757secs