The #7 crew of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima return to defend their crown after winning a thrilling race in Japan last year. The trio’s last race ended with fourth position at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The sister TS030 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin, the #8, completes a strong TOYOTA Racing entry at the team’s home circuit.
After a race-long battle for victory ended in second place for the #8 in its last race, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TOYOTA Racing is aiming to challenge for victory in Japan.
Fuji Speedway lies just 20 kilometres away from the Higashifuji Technical Centre, where the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing powertrain is developed.
The drivers have four chances to use the 300hp hybrid boost at Fuji Speedway, as defined by the official hybrid braking zones, where energy can be recovered to provide additional acceleration.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “I always look forward to racing in Japan, not only because it is our home race but also because of the fantastic support we enjoy from the Japanese fans. Last year’s event at Fuji was probably the best six-hour race of the year both in terms of the close battle between us and Audi, and also the large, passionate crowd. Winning the race was a fantastic moment for the team and we travel to Japan absolutely determined to keep that title. The whole team is looking forward to seeing Alex, Nicolas and Kazuki at the track again and I’m sure, like the #8 crew, they will be fired up to have a good weekend.”
Alex Wurz (#7): “I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel again; it’s much more fun to be racing the TS030 HYBRID than watching it on TV. Fuji is an important race for the team as there are a lot of TOYOTA employees and fans, so it is always a busy weekend. It’s hard for me to predict how the race weekend will go but we will give it our best to defend last year’s victory despite the strong competition we can expect. Certainly there will be a lot of work for us to do in the first practice sessions to get familiar with the updated post-Le Mans package and to optimise it for Fuji. I’m ready for the challenge and ready to race.”
Nicolas Lapierre (#7): “Fuji last year was one of my best memories so I’m really fired up to get back in the car this weekend. It’s great to be working with Alex and Kazuki again after quite a break since Le Mans. We have a great relationship so I’m sure everything will fall into place very quickly. I’m quite impatient to get behind the wheel of the TS030 HYBRID again and experience the high-downforce package for the first time at a race weekend. I’m expecting a busy weekend and we need to be on top form to challenge for victory; we showed last year what is possible so I am optimistic.”
Kazuki Nakajima (#7): “I have some great memories of Fuji last year, especially because it was my first FIA world championship race win. It is a circuit I know really well from my Super GT and Super Formula racing, and it’s one of my favourite tracks. It has been a long time since Le Mans but I have had plenty of racing since then so I am ready for the weekend and I’m looking forward to working with the TOYOTA Racing team again. This will be my first time to drive the high-downforce package and I am interested to see what it can do. It’s always a challenge to fight with Audi but I hope we can have another exciting race.”
Anthony Davidson (#8): “I’m expecting a very special atmosphere at Fuji. The circuit has a lot of history but since the upgrade it is now a modern track which is good for racing. It is challenging for drivers so I can’t wait to experience an LMP1 car there for the first time. For me the fans are particularly special in Japan and you feel very proud to be driving for a Japanese manufacturer when you see the support they give. We were part of a very close battle in Austin and it was very satisfying to be challenging again. The high-downforce package has been working well in its two races so far so hopefully we can again fight at the front.”
Sébastien Buemi (#8): “I have never raced at Fuji but I did drive the medical car there in 2008 for the Japanese Grand Prix. From that experience I could learn a bit about the track; it is very technical and you need experience to get the best out of it. It certainly looks like a fun track to race on so I am looking forward to the weekend. I think we will have a fantastic atmosphere; the Japanese fans are really enthusiastic and you really feel the support they give. It’s amazing and I expect it will be extra special as a Toyota driver. Obviously I hope we can deliver a good result; we were close in Austin but we want more in Fuji.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (#8): “I know Fuji from racing LMP2 there last year and I really enjoy the track; it is nicely balanced between fast and slow corners and it’s quite tricky for the drivers. I’m particularly excited to experience the track at the wheel of the TS030 HYBRID and driving for TOYOTA Racing. What I saw of the team’s fans last year was incredible. It felt like everyone was supporting the team and wearing the TOYOTA Racing colours. It gives us a real boost to see such great support. So I am expecting a memorable experience and our target is obviously to give the fans a result to celebrate.”