TOYOTA Racing completed its first long-distance endurance test during a three-day session at Paul Ricard in France. In just its second full test, and its third time on track including a roll-out, the TS030 HYBRID was faced with the tough challenge of a 30-hour endurance run.
The long-distance test began on Thursday afternoon following initial sessions to evaluate various performance developments. Sébastien Buemi, in his first test as an official TOYOTA Racing driver, started the marathon session, followed by his team-mate in car #8 at Le Mans, Hiroaki Ishiura. Car #7 team-mates Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima also took turns behind the wheel of the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. The test ended with TOYOTA Racing having achieved its primary goal of completing a significant number of laps to evaluate the car over very long distances.
TOYOTA Racing will now concentrate on preparing and updated package for the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, its first race of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship season. The next tests are scheduled for April.
Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “We have done some valuable tests and this has contributed to our ongoing development of performance, reliability and organisation. The endurance test was an interesting experience; we were expecting challenges for everyone in the team and we weren’t disappointed! It’s not easy on the car or the people but we are all passionate about this project so a strong team spirit saw us through to the end. We are content with the results and the conclusions we have been able to draw, which will accelerate our preparations for our first race.”
Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader: “This was the first time we have run the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing over such a long test session so we never expected a trouble-free week and we did experience a few issues, but nothing major. Thanks to a large amount of data and the detailed feedback of all the drivers, we have a lot of information about how the THS-R powertrain behaves. We have been able to use this already to refine our systems and before the next tests we will work more on some of the issues raised. We have achieved our primary goals for this test and I am happy with how it has gone.”
Alex Wurz: “The test has been interesting and we have gained valuable experience. In terms of development, we continue to optimize the interaction between all components, including the hybrid system. As a result, the car is progressing. During our endurance test we did encounter some issues but that is why we are testing. The team sprit here at TOYOTA Racing really strong and it has again been a pleasure to work with the guys; we know and understand each other better and better with each day. Overall I would say I am generally pleased with this test.”
Hiroaki Ishiura: “It was a really exciting experience to drive the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID during an endurance run for the first time. Actually, this was my first time to drive this lay-out of Paul Ricard and I had to do it in the dark, so my first task was to find my way around! We don’t drive much at night in Super GT so I don’t have a lot of experience of this; it was a very useful test for me in that sense. It was good to complete a lot of laps and I’ve enjoyed working with the team again.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “Overall the test was good. It was the first time for me to participate in an endurance test and it allowed us to prepare in circumstances much closer to race conditions. This meant running in some very cold conditions but even then the car and tyres were working well. I did a lot of stints so I was really busy and we put plenty of mileage on the car. We have a sound basis and the car shows good potential but we now need to work on the details and develop some areas. We are on the right track and things continue to go well.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “I did some development work and also participated in the endurance test. I am quite positive about how it went for a first long-distance simulation with the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. We can see how the car reacts to various different conditions, such as the cold track temperatures we may encounter during the night at Le Mans. The car felt pretty good in these conditions, which is not always easy here at Paul Ricard. The package is evolving and improving; we have fixed some issues, corrected some little details and overall we are moving forward.”
Sébastien Buemi: “It was nice to discover more about the endurance racing environment. I have been in the driving simulator at TMG so I had an idea of what to expect but the reality is always a bit more complex. From a technical point of view the car is very impressive although we still need to make progress in some areas, which is normal at this stage of testing. I did some long stints and learned about new aspects of endurance racing, like driving at night, managing fuel consumption and adapting my driving style. I can see that every detail is important in order to be fast in this discipline.”