TOYOTA Racing is coming home! Both for Toyota Europe (based in Brussels) and Toyota Motorsport GmbH (based just 120 km away from Spa in Cologne). It feels like no time has passed since the season opening Silverstone race just two weeks ago and we’re already onto the second race of the season. More after the break.
We have two new additions for our outing at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit. We’ll be putting the 2013-spec TS030 HYBRID to the test in racing conditions for the first time in the Ardennes. Kazuki Nakajima, just back from a successful campaign defending his Super Formula (formerly Formula Nippon) title with a win at Fuji last weekend, will race with the team for the first time this year on the 7.004 km circuit.
The 2013-spec TS030 HYBRID has been updated with a modified chassis and powertrain. As well as performance, priorities were given to reliability and serviceability of parts during development. The aerodynamic package of the car has also been revised around an updated monocoque. The updated package is designed to deliver improved performance while minimising the impact of a weight penalty for manufacturer LMP1 cars which now sees a 15 kg increase in minimum weight.
Our colleagues at Toyota’s Motor Sport Division in Higashifuji has also fine-tuned the TOYOTA Hybrid System – Racing powertrain to improve power, efficiency, management of component usage and reliability. The 3.4-litre normally aspirated V8 petrol engine delivers 530hp, coupled with a super capacitor which recovers braking energy at designated braking zones to deliver a further 300hp automatic power boost.
The Spa race weekend will also run with a slightly different two-day schedule (instead of the traditional three-day race weekend). Two free practice sessions and qualifying will take place all on Friday, May 3. The six-hour race will kick off at 14:30 on Saturday afternoon (after a warm-up session in the morning).
Don’t forget to follow @Toyota_Hybrid for all the latest from Spa-Francorchamps!
Here are what our drivers had to say ahead of Spa:
“I’m looking forward to racing with the updated car, and also with Kazuki again. Testing has gone well so I’m excited to see what the car can do in race conditions. Our target will be to improve on our Silverstone result and fine-tune the updated car at the same time. In Spa you can never predict the weather. If it’s dry you have great sensations because it’s a very fast track which is fun to drive; it’s a very good circuit for LMP1 cars. If the weather is mixed or wet it’s very challenging, but I don’t mind because Spa is cool in most conditions.” – Alex
“At Spa it will be important for us to know where we are compared to Audi. After a disappointing race for the #7 in Silverstone, we want to take advantage of the 2013-specification car. It will be the first time this season we have a three-driver #7 crew which will be a useful training for Le Mans. I like Spa and have some happy memories so it’s a good place to have our last rehearsal in race conditions before Le Mans. It’s also nice to work with Kazuki again; we have spent time together in testing but our last race together was Fuji last year.” – Nicolas
“I’m delighted to be back competing for TOYOTA Racing; we had productive tests but now I am ready to race again. My most recent memory of the WEC is winning at Fuji Speedway last year so I hope to keep the good run going. Spa is a great track but it has never been good for me in terms of results. It’s always nice to drive such an exciting lay-out and I aim to improve my record there. We will have two cars with different packages so it will be interesting to see the comparison, keeping in mind that we are preparing for Le Mans.” – Kazuki
“I’m looking forward to Spa. The last time I was there in LMP1 in 2011, I won the race. I don’t care what the weather is, wet or dry, it’s always changing there and I think we are fast in both conditions. From the technical side it will be really interesting to compare our updated car with the 2012 version, and also with the Audis. It gives us a taste of where everyone stands. The #8 crew again has the 2012 car with high-downforce aero package so we hope to be competitive at Spa. I’m looking forward to another strong race.” – Anthony
“I love racing at Spa! With an LMP1 car it’s just great and I can’t wait to experience the hybrid system on the TS030 HYBRID at Spa for the first time. This is the last race before Le Mans so it’s an important weekend. I hope we will be able to fight at the front and the aim of course is to win. I already won the Spa 24 Hours in 2008 when the race was a mix of all kinds of weather. I’m ready for anything this weekend and we will do our best for the team to improve on our Silverstone’s result.” – Stéphane
“After my first WEC podium at Silverstone I’m delighted to go to Spa. I like Spa, it is one of the most beautiful circuits in the world. I know it very well as I raced there in many series but it will be my first time with an LMP1 so it will be a challenge to deal with the traffic. Competition will be once again very tough. Our team-mates in the #7 will have the updated car so we hope they will make a big step forward. But even with the 2012-specification car, the #8 will be pushing for a good result and we still expect to be competitive.” – Sébastien
But there’s more! Our colleagues at Lexus Europe recently asked Alex to test drive the all-new Lexus IS 300h around Paul Ricard. Watch how he got along below.
Update 03/05: Anthony Davidson looks ahead to 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamlps