TOYOTA Racing set the fastest lap of the day at Interlagos as practice began for the Six Hours of Sao Paulo, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Saturday’s race marks the team’s third in the WEC and comes three weeks after the previous round at Silverstone, in which the TS030 HYBRID took runners-up spot and set a new lap record.
With Kazuki Nakajima remaining in Japan due to Super GT commitments, Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre, on his first visit to the Interlagos track, share the #7 TS030 HYBRID in Brazil.
Nicolas took the wheel to start the first 90-minute session and he immediately encountered tricky track conditions, with light rain causing the team to switch between dry and intermediate Michelin tyres.
As conditions stabilised Nicolas worked on refining the set-up of the TS030 HYBRID. Alex, driving on this track for the first time since 2006, took over with 12 minutes remaining.
The roles were reversed in second practice, with Alex starting the session. Following a long first stint, he tried out various aerodynamic and mechanical set-ups before handing over to Nicolas for the final 10 minutes.
Using the significant power boost of the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing, whose super capacitor is charged in five designated hybrid braking zones, Nicolas set the fastest time of the day, 0.438 seconds faster than the competition.
Third practice is on Friday morning (09.45-10.45) before qualifying for LMP1 and LMP2 cars (14.30-14.50). Following Saturday morning’s warm-up (08.00-08.20) the six-hour race begins at midday with a rolling start.
TS030 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre)
Free practice 1: 3rd (1min 25.055secs), 41 laps
Free practice 2: 1st (1min 23.272secs), 52 laps
Alex Wurz: “It was an interesting day. Of course, it is nice for the team to be the fastest at the end of the day for the first time but this is practice, not the race. We have a lot of data to analyse to make some set-up changes. The car feels good but we can optimize it; here we always have to find a good compromise and it needs to work on both the aerodynamic and mechanical sides. The track is very demanding but I really like it. I think we can expect an extremely difficult race with really tricky traffic.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “I drove the most in the first free practice because I had to learn the track; it wasn’t easy due to the drizzle and then more heavy rain. Anyway, the two sessions were good. Interlagos is a nice track, with beautiful curves and a lot of undulation. The traffic is very tricky because the track is not so wide and there are not so many straights. Our set-up basis is good. We can optimize it but we are benefiting from the experience gained at Silverstone; we know the aero package better so we move forward quickly. The track evolves a lot, there is now more grip so we have to keep that in mind.”
(Photo: Toyota Motorsport)