Toyota Gazoo Racing began their 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours challenge in earnest at the weekend, with results from official testing at the weekend raising hopes of a close fight in the race on 18 – 19 June.
The No5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima set a best lap time of 3 minutes 23.197 seconds, fifth quickest of the day, 1.822 seconds down on the pace-setting No8 Audi. The No6 Toyota of Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi was sixth quickest.
Both cars showed significant improvements on their 2015 times, in spite of the fact changes to the racing regulations for this year require a 10 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. The No5 car was more than two seconds faster than its best test lap from last year.
The session also put the cars’ endurance to the test, with 177 laps completed – a distance just shy of 1,500 miles.
Anthony Davidson said: “We can feel we have made a big step forward from last year’s car. It feels like we have a better balance and the 8MJ hybrid boost is great around this track, where straight-line speed is so important. But it’s also important to keep stability and momentum through the fast corners so we have worked hard on the balance. We still have work to do of course, but I am pleased with the amount we have been able to cram into this one day of testing.”
Mike Conway added: “It was good to get quite a lot of laps in today; it’s what you need around here as you never get to test on this track. I am pretty happy with the balance of our car. I didn’t get any really clear laps but it was more about getting the balance right, not outright lap time. We haven’t tried any low fuel or new tyre runs so there’s more to come.”