TOYOTA GAZOO RACING ALL SET FOR SILVERSTONE
Toyota Gazoo Racing are launching their challenge for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend, heading for the season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone with a new car and a revised driver line-up.
The heavily modified TS050 Hybrid will be making its competitive debut in the first of the nine endurance races which make up this year’s championship.
It’s a prospect relished by the team’s two British drivers, former WEC champion Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway, both of whom are past winners of the Richard Lloyd Trophy, presented to the highest placed driver in the race who is a member of the British Racing Drivers Club.
Davidson said: “Silverstone is truly my home track as I live very close by and I’ve driven there in all kinds of cars over the years. It’s a great circuit to drive which really highlights the performance of modern LMP1 cars like the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, especially in the fast, flowing corners where you can take advantage of the downforce. The championship battle starts in Silverstone and I believe we’ve got the car to fight at the front.”
Conway added: “It will be a tricky race especially with traffic but I think we have a competitive car and we arrive there well prepared. Even though it’s hard to tell at the moment where we are compared to our main rival, I’m sure we will see a tough battle so I’m really looking forward to it and am optimistic.”
Teams are limited to just two aerodynamic packages for 2017 and Toyota Gazoo Racing will be bringing the high-downforce version of the Toyota TS050 Hybrid to Silverstone, a race in which they have claimed podium finishes in each of their five previous visits. The car has been heavily modified with an upgraded hybrid powertrain and mechanical and aerodynamic updates. It has undergone around 35,000km of pre-season testing, including a two-day prologue event at Monza earlier this month, and is primed for a two-way fight for world championship honours with LMP1 rivals Porsche.
Three-time World Touring Car champion José María López will be making his Toyota race debut in the No7 car alongside Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, race winners and title contenders in 2016.
In the sister No8 car, Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will be reunited for a third consecutive season. Davidson and Buemi have driven together since 2013 and were joint winners of the 2014 drivers’ title.
Track action begins on Friday with two 90-minute practice sessions; a final hour-long practice on Saturday morning takes place before qualifying. The six-hour race begins at midday on Sunday.