Toyota Racing enjoyed an impressive debut at Le Mans with the new TS030 HYBRID cars after posting the fourth and fifth quickest times on the annual test day.
On the day when the team ran both cars together for the first time, the #7 car of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima was able to set a best time just 1.277secs down on the pace-setting Audi.
That quick lap came with Wurz at the wheel, while team-mate Nakajima successfully completed the ten laps required to qualify for the race.
“Generally this was a good test day for us,” Wurz said. “It is positive that we went through the program we planned and even did some more laps than expected. We have to always remember that we as a team are completely new in this game so we have plenty to learn; this is just the first step.
“Now we have our homework to do to get ready for the TS030 HYBRID's first race. There is so much data to analyse but this is what I enjoy doing, and the team do as well. The Le Mans story for 2012 has begun and so far so good.”
The sister car, shared by Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson for the day with Stephane Sarrazin recovering from a cycling accident, was one place further back on the timing sheets with Buemi also able to complete his mandatory ten laps.
“Having quite a lot of laps around this track in the driving simulator at TMG helped me adapt straight away,” former Toro Rosso F1 man Buemi said. “Conditions were not easy, with rain on one part of the circuit and a dry track on another. I like this circuit, in particular the Porsche corner. But it is not easy to deal with the traffic; speed difference compared to the GT class is quite big.
“Overall the day has been positive and I am happy to have set the third fastest time of the morning so the car seems to be on a good pace. We have been able to cover a lot of kilometres and gain valuable information which will help us to prepare the race week.”
With the new-look cars – featuring a blue and white livery – lapping closer to the pace than many had expected, team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita said he was pleased with the way the team had performed.
“Today was a significant step for us because it was our first chance to see the car on track against our opposition at Le Mans,” he said. “It's hard to judge lap times but it certainly strengthens our racing spirit. Overall we are satisfied to complete a full day's running with both cars without any significant issue; the only interruptions came with some minor bodywork damage. Unfortunately we only had five drivers with us following Stephane's accident. But he's an experienced driver so we have no concerns; he'll be on top form for the race I'm sure.”