Toyota Gazoo Racing will finally resume their defence of their FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) title next weekend when racing returns after an enforced six-month break with the Total 6 Hours of Spa.
The team were last in action back in February in Austin, Texas. The next race in the calendar, at Sebring in Florida, was cancelled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Race dates at Spa in May and the Le Mans 24 Hours in June were postponed, while a new race in Bahrain was added to the schedule as a replacement for Sebring.
Three months later than planned, the 6 Hours of Spa will take place on Saturday 15 August without spectators. Toyota Gazoo Racing will make the short journey from their Cologne base in Germany, determined to fight for a fourth consecutive victory at the Belgian track and extend their World Championship lead, which stands at 33 points over Rebellion Racing.
The resumption of racing will give the team’s British driver, Mike Conway, and his team-mates in the No7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, the opportunity to extend their shared lead in the drivers’ championship. They currently hold a five-point advantage over the No8 Toyota crew of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley.
Looking ahead to the Belgian race date, Conway said: “The No7 crew has been so strong at Spa over the last few years but we’ve never managed to win the race due to factors beyond our control. So, as well as Le Mans, this is a race I really want to win and we will give it our all.”
Despite the calendar changes, Spa remains the warm-up race for Le Mans and it will mark the season-debut for the TS050 in low-downforce trim. The engineers and drivers have already sharpened the competitive instincts during the racing-free period by taking part in the Virtual Le Mans 24 Hours, on the same June weekend when the race proper should have taken place.
The team used their e-motorsport debut as a relationship-building exercise, strengthening the bonds between drivers and engineers in the absence of having any face-to-face contact. A three-day test at the Paul Ricard circuit in the South of France in July also helped prepare the team for their return to action.
Track action at Spa will begin next Thursday with free practice and qualifying sessions through the race getting under way at 1.30pm local time on Saturday, 15 August.