29.October 2014

China next for Championship chasing Toyota Racing

TOYOTA Racing aims to extend its lead of the FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend in the Six Hours of Shanghai, the sixth of eight rounds this season.

The team heads to China on the back of a dominant one-two victory at Fuji, its third consecutive win on home soil, which saw TOYOTA establish an eight-point lead in the manufacturers’ World Championship.

Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, drivers of the #8 TS040 HYBRID, extended their lead in the drivers’ standings to 26 points with their third win of the season.

They will again race together alone in the #8. Nicolas Lapierre will again be absent.

Based on its experience in Fuji, the team considers it is the best option to continue with a two-driver line-up of Anthony and Sébastien in Shanghai and for the remaining races of the season.

The #7 crew of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima will be looking to score that car’s third consecutive pole position in Shanghai, having been the class of the field in qualifying for the past two seasons.

Last year’s visit to Shanghai ended in frustration, despite that pole position. The #8 car looked to be on its way to victory before suspension damage forced its retirement, while the #7 had to make do with second due to a late puncture.

However, TOYOTA Racing does have a winner’s trophy from Shanghai on display at its Cologne base; Alex and Nicolas piloted the #7 to a comprehensive victory there in 2012, the team’s first season of WEC competition.

The 1,000PS, four-wheel-drive TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing, which uses 25% less fuel in 2014 whilst delivering more power, is expected to be well suited to the 16-turn, 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit.

Practice in Shanghai begins on Friday with two sessions of 90 minutes (10.45 and 15.30 local time), with a final one-hour practice on Saturday (9.30) prior to qualifying (13.55). The race starts on Sunday at 11.00.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “After our one-two finish in Japan we have maximum confidence going to Shanghai. But we have to be fully focused on this weekend’s race; we cannot ease off in our battle for the World Championship. In the past, our TS030 HYBRID showed impressive performance in Shanghai, so we hope to continue that with the TS040 HYBRID. We know we will face tough competition as always; Audi and Porsche will be looking to hit back after Fuji so it should be an exciting and unpredictable fight this weekend.”

Alex Wurz (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I am really looking forward to Shanghai simply because I have good memories of this track. The flow of the lay-out fits my driving style very well and I can find a nice rhythm, plus I have had some good results there; winning from pole position in 2012, and getting pole last year. I think the nature of the circuit should suit the TS040 HYBRID’s strengths so I am optimistic. Our one-two in Fuji was the perfect preparation so we are going full throttle for the last races of the season.”

Stéphane Sarrazin (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I am quite excited to drive in China again. I like the track, which has some fast corners and interesting elements. It was a good race for us last year until we had some misfortune; both cars were very strong and very fast. Alex in particular was flying there! We have shown good performance all season so we should be confident again this weekend. Our target is clearly to increase our lead in the World Championship with another strong team result. We’ll be pushing as hard as we can.”

Kazuki Nakajima (TS040 HYBRID #7): “It is exciting to be going back to Shanghai as it is the first time for me since 2009, and my first time to drive there in an LMP1 car. It is a tricky track which is not easy track to learn. It is hard on the tyres and can be difficult with traffic. We know we can be quick on this track so we aim to challenge for the win again, in what will be an important race for both World Championships. The end of the season is coming so it is important to score a lot of points.”

Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #8): “It’s great to be going to Shanghai in the lead of both World Championships; we will be giving our all to stay there until the end of the season. For me, Shanghai feels like unfinished business because we were controlling the race last year but had the technical issue. I am determined to make up for that and give the team another win in China. We’re all still buzzing from the Fuji result but we know we have three more races to go and we are determined to stay on top. It’s full attack from now until the chequered flag in Brazil.”

Sébastien Buemi (TS040 HYBRID #8): “I am happy to be going to China, where we had a good experience last year until the problem. The team was on pole position and leading the race; our car was clearly quick. So I have some good memories of Shanghai and I want to enjoy an even better weekend this year. I think the circuit will suit our TS040 HYBRID so I expect and hope to have a good race. It can’t get better than a one-two from pole position in Fuji but we have to maintain that momentum as we fight for the World Championships. This is our target in the final three races.” 

13.October 2014

Home Hat-Trick for Toyota Racing at Fuji

TOYOTA Racing maintained its unbeaten record on home ground with a dominant one-two victory in the Six Hours of Fuji, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The team scored a third consecutive win in the event thanks to the #8 TS040 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, who extend their lead in the drivers’ World Championship.

A perfect day for the team saw the #7, winner in Fuji for the past two seasons, finish close behind in second, with Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel.

Both cars finished one lap ahead of the opposition as TOYOTA regained the lead of the manufacturers’ World Championship. Its third win of the season puts the team eight points clear of Audi.

In the drivers’ standings, Anthony and Sébastien lead by 26 points over team-mate Nicolas Lapierre, who missed the Fuji race for personal reasons, with the third-placed crew of Audi #2 now trailing by 29 points.

Unlike last year, when heavy rain ruined the race, today’s event started in dry but cool weather, with air temperature just 14°C. But the action on track soon got hotter.

Starting from pole, Sébastien in the #8 initially slipped to third in the first corners before hitting back and, helped by the 1,000PS four-wheel-drive TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing, retaking the lead within the opening lap.

Kazuki was also involved in the battle and ultimately gained a position to move into third. Following an early pit stop for Porsche #20, the #7 took second and the two TS040 HYBRIDs ran together at the front, stretching their lead.

At the first pit stops, just before the hour mark, Stéphane took over the #7 while Anthony got in the #8, with both using their new tyres to pull clear of the chasing pack.

After a clean double stint, during which they had to fight through plenty of traffic, the pair was separated by just three seconds and had pulled out a gap of almost a lap on third place.

Sébastien returned to the cockpit of the #8 just before half distance while Alex took the wheel of the #7 to continue the TS040 HYBRID dominance.

With a one-lap advantage, the team and drivers adopted a cautious approach to tyre strategy and traffic with the target of ensuring maximum points from the weekend.

Anthony and Kazuki returned for further stints, with Stéphane taking over the #7 in the last hour as Anthony remained in the cockpit to take the chequered flag and a very popular one-two in front of 51,000 Japanese fans over the weekend.

Racing resumes for WEC next month with a hectic climax to the year, starting on 2 November with the Six Hours of Shanghai prior to the season-closing races in Bahrain and Sao Paulo.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “I am very proud of the team and drivers for this one-two finish in our home race. We have had some great days here at Fuji but this was even better than our previous victories. Many people have asked me if we feel extra pressure this weekend, as Fuji is our home race; actually we only feel extra support. So I would like to say a big thank you to all the fans, Fuji Speedway and our colleagues from TOYOTA who gave us such great encouragement all weekend. Our car was the most competitive this weekend and this is what we are pushing to achieve for the final three races of the season.”

TS040 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima)
Race: 2nd, 236 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 27.887secs

Alex Wurz: “It’s amazing to bring home a one-two in dominant form; we didn’t expect that. The track was very tricky but we did our homework well in terms of tyre choice and set-up. This gave us the chance today to get this result. A one-two like this makes everyone happy; the fans, our colleagues at TOYOTA and especially the team. Now we go to China full of confidence.”

Stéphane Sarrazin: “This is a brilliant result for TOYOTA and the whole team; it’s just amazing. The team did a great job and a one-two is the best possible result. Both cars were pushing each other and it was very close. I am really happy to be back on the podium. Our target coming here to Fuji was to take the lead in the manufacturers’ World Championship and we have achieved that. After frustration in Le Mans and Austin this is a big result for us. Now for the next one.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “Congratulations to the #8 crew. They did a very good job and together we have achieved a great result for the team which is fantastic for the manufacturers’ World Championship. It’s nice to show what we can do in front of our home supporters. My race went well, although it was actually my first race start in WEC and this was quite tricky, especially with the different fuel strategies. I got through the pack and our pace was strong. It’s been a very good day.”

TS040 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi)
Race: 1st, 236 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 27.815secs

Anthony Davidson: “It was an absolutely perfect race and a perfect weekend for everyone at TOYOTA Racing. That was a great job by all the team; we had the strongest car, the right strategy and great pit stops. First and second in our home race; it doesn’t get better than that. For the team to win here three times in a row now is pretty special. It extends our lead in the drivers’ World Championship and regains the lead in the manufacturers’, so you couldn’t ask for any more as a team. So big thanks to all and especially to the guys from TOYOTA Motor Corporation who have given us such great support this week.”

Sébastien Buemi: “To leave Fuji with a one-two and the lead of both World Championships is a very special feeling. At the start it was clearly a bit difficult to warm up the tyres so I was in the middle of a big fight; the first lap was quite crazy. After that we took control. It was a great job from Anthony and the whole team. Honestly, we didn’t expect to be so far ahead but it is the result of a lot of hard work. We’ll enjoy this moment but quickly focus on the remaining races. Today’s result is a good sign for the rest of the season.”

07.October 2014

6h of Fuji Race preview

TOYOTA Racing will be without driver Nicolas Lapierre for the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Six Hours of Fuji.

Due to personal reasons, a mutual decision has been reached for him to take a break from participating in the #8 TS040 HYBRID he shares with Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “Nicolas is taking a break due to his personal circumstances and the team will support him during this period. This was a decision we have taken together. Our driver line-up is close to completion for 2015 and beyond, and Nicolas remains a long-term member of our team.”

Nicolas will not be replaced in the #8, leaving Anthony and Sébastien to defend their lead in the drivers’ World Championship, which stands at 11 points after four of eight races in 2014.

In the #7 TS040 HYBRID, Kazuki Nakajima returns to his regular spot after missing the last race in Austin due to his Japanese racing programme. That reunites him with fellow two-time Fuji winner Alex Wurz, alongside Stéphane Sarrazin.

The first four races of the season saw the 1,000PS, four-wheel-drive TS040 HYBRID take two victories and start from pole position three times, whilst showing the performance to win at each event.

Going into the Fuji race, TOYOTA Racing is second in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, just 18 points behind Audi.

The team has won both its WEC races at Fuji, although last year’s victory came in monsoon conditions which saw the race red flagged after only a handful of laps behind the safety car.

Fuji is very much the home event for TOYOTA Racing, not just as its only race in Japan but also due to its location just 20km away from the Higashifuji Technical Centre where the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing is developed.

A return to the top step of the podium is the target, especially after frustration in Austin last time out saw victory slip away for the #8 in chaotic scenes during a heavy rain shower. The #8 went on to finish third with the #7 sixth.

Action begins on Friday with two 90-minute practice sessions (11.00 & 15.30) while Saturday sees final practice (09.30-10.30) followed by qualifying (13.55-14.20). The six-hour race starts on Sunday at 11am local time.

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “It is always a pleasure to race in front of our home supporters at Fuji. This year we head to Japan not only determined to keep up our winning record there, but also to deliver a fantastic show for the fans. The rain last year was such a disappointment because it denied everyone what would have been an exciting battle, but the fans showed real spirit despite everything. This year I hope the weather is kinder and we can give them something to cheer about. We are absolutely motivated to respond after our Austin disappointment and Fuji is the perfect place to do that.”

Alex Wurz (TS040 HYBRID #7): “Fuji is our home race so it’s very exciting and we like the track. We have our special secret weapon in Fuji; Kazuki Nakajima! The track should suit our car a lot with the four-wheel-drive hybrid system and advanced aerodynamics. I love Japan and the Japanese culture so I’m really looking forward to this trip. But the focus is 100% on racing and we know we have to push very hard to improve on the result we achieved in Austin. We are determined to do that.”

Stéphane Sarrazin (TS040 HYBRID #7): “Fuji is an amazing place and I enjoy it a lot. I like the atmosphere there and as a TOYOTA driver we feel huge support. When we see how many fans come to the track, and how passionate they are about endurance racing, it is really special. I like the track as well. Obviously it is one of the classic endurance tracks so there is a lot of history there and it is also quite a varied track; it is a mix of different types of corner. Our car was really fast last year so we hope it will be again.”

Kazuki Nakajima (TS040 HYBRID #7): “It’s great to be back in the TS040 HYBRID again after missing the Austin race. Even though I wasn’t with the team, I shared their frustration at what happened and I think we are all determined to make up for it in Japan. I know the Fuji track really well from my Super GT and Super Formula races and it’s one of my favourites. I’ve already won there this year in Super Formula, and of course in WEC the last two years, so I want to experience that winning feeling again this weekend. We have the car to do it.”

Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #8): “I always love going to Japan. I enjoy the country, the culture and of course, the people. I’m really looking forward to Fuji, especially as we are going there with a very competitive car. We had difficult weather last year and I felt so sorry for the fans, they are so enthusiastic and you really feel their support. They deserve to have a proper race this year. We should have won the race in Austin, so the memory of that disappointment will motivate us in Fuji where we want to win again on TOYOTA’s home turf.”

Sébastien Buemi (TS040 HYBRID #8): “I am really happy to come back to Fuji for our home race. We go to Japan leading the drivers’ World Championship which is a special thing; I don’t know if that has happened before for TOYOTA. Fuji is a fantastic circuit but more than that the atmosphere is simply great. I just hope the weather will be better than last year and we will have a proper race. We have a strong car and a strong team so we will be able to fight for the win, I am sure. After the disappointment in Austin, it’s important we get a top result.”

TOYOTA Racing at Fuji Speedway:
2012 #7: Qual. 1st; Race 1st.
2013 #7: Qual. 3rd; Race 1st. #8: Qual. 2nd; Race 27th.

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