Toyota Gazoo Racing will race with three TS050 Hybrid cars for the first time when they compete in the second round of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
The team will be looking to repeat their winning success in the season’s opening race at Silverstone, buoyed by the fact Spa is a “home” race, just 75 miles from their base in Cologne.
The race is also significant for being the last event prior to the highlight of the WEC calendar, the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. With this mind, the team will be testing out both of the two aerodynamic configurations available for their cars under new championship technical regulations.
The No7 crew of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López will use the high-downforce TS050 Hybrid with which they claimed pole position at Silverstone. Their race ended when López crashed in damp conditions. After a period of rest, he is expected to confirm his race fitness in Thursday’s practice sessions.
Conway is looking forward to racing on one of his favourite circuits. He said: “The track itself is just really cool, with elevation changes, fast flowing corners and a huge variety of corners types. It is really challenging but I like it a lot. I hope that the package we’ve used at Silverstone will have a similar pace at Spa. There are definitely still things to improve but we are confident. I think it will be a close race again with Porsche, so we will stay focused.”
The No8 machine of Silverstone race winners and World Championship leaders Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima will also run high-downforce trim, which concedes top speed in favour of more cornering grip.
To help with preparations for Le Mans, the No9 car will race in low-downforce specification, optimised for the long, fast straights which characterise the Le Mans circuit. The driver line-up sees Stéphane Sarrazin joining WEC debutant Yuji Kunimoto and, making a return to the team, Nicolas Lapierre.
Spa-Francorchamps is the oldest circuit on the WEC calendar and has been the scene of some strong performances by Toyota, including victory in the 2014 race. This year the team’s target is again to race for a win while also accelerating their Le Mans strategy, which includes adjusting to the demands of running three cars. Qualifying will take place on Friday and the race will get under way at 2.30pm local time (1.30pm UK time) on Saturday.