Front row start for TOYOTA Racing at Silverstone
Toyota Europe

Alex and Nico on pole

We will start tomorrow’s season opening 6 hours of Silverstone with both cars locking out the front row of the grid. Our #7 car set the fastest average lap with Alex and Nicolas at the wheel, while Anthony and Sébastien went second fastest to take P2. Read more after the break.

Free Practice 3

Saturday started bright and early at Silverstone. The Northampton circuit was bright with a beautiful spring sun with blue skies as backdrop. When Free Practice 3 kicked off at 09:00 GMT, the track was still damp and patchy at places.

Alex Wurz piloting the #7 car and Anthony Davidson in the #8 car were first on track. We occupied P3 and P4 with the #8 and #7 cars respectively early on in the session. The session was red flagged just as Anthony put down a purple first sector, forcing teams to bring their cars back to the pits.

Sunny morning greeted us

Sky turned grey pretty quickly

Not long after the restart, Anthony handed the reigns over to Sébastien Buemi in the #8 car. In the other car, Alex was pushing hard, shaving off some 3 sec to go from P4 to P1. Sébastien moved to P5 with a 1:56.012 in the #8 car before setting what was the fastest time of the session with a 1:51.539 on lap 17.

With around 10 min left of the session, dark clouds suddenly bloomed over the track with rain being reported. The pit lane quickly became damp before the chequered flag fell. Stéphane Sarrazin had a brief off-track moment as the conditions became ever changing.

We ended the final Free Practice session with #7 car in P4 (1:49.754 set on the 26th and final lap) and #8 car in P5 (1:51.539).

Qualifying

Both TOYOTA Racing TS030 HYBRID on track

Qualifying was next. As we mentioned in yesterday’s report, this year’s Qualifying is a short 20 min affair with two drivers needing to set a minimum two timed laps (only fastest counts). The final grid positions are based on the average of the four total laps set in each car.

That was a mouthful to explain…

Qualifying kicked off at 12:40 GMT as rain began to fall, once again throwing the possibilities wide open. First set of drivers to venture out on track for us were Nicolas Lapierre in #7 and Anthony in #8 both on intermediate tyres.

First lap times quickly popped up on the timing boards (our main point of reference for average lap times). Anthony was quick with a 1:56.866 in the #8 and 1:58.336 for Nico in the #7.

Car #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Stéphane Sarrazin)

But as the track conditions changed again, Anthony set what would become his second fastest lap with a 1:51.975. Next lap both drivers set their fastest times with Nico putting in a 1:50.103 and Anthony a 1:50.898 in the #8 car.

Job done, next set of drivers stepped into their cars. Nico handed the #7 over to Alex, while Anthony handed the #8 to Sébastien. At this point of the session, the average lap time for #7 was 1:49.602 and 1:50.459 for the #8 car.

Our #7 crew decided to change Alex to slick tyres proved to be a bold and successful move. Alex quickly took advantage of the drying track conditions to set the fastest lap of the session with a 1:43.281.

Team eagerly awaits on track results

Sébastien stayed out with intermediates although the #8 car was able to secure second place for the start of tomorrow’s race.

The session ended with a bit of confusion as the timing screens correctly showed Alex in pole position while Sébastien down in the late teens. It also seemed to show the #8 car completing only three of the four laps to meet minimum requirement.

Nevertheless, the #7 half of our garage were already celebrating a breath taking pole position with an average time of 1:48.021.

When the timing screens finally refreshed to display the correct information, we realised our car #8 drivers put themselves in P2 with an average lap time of 1:49.995, 1.9 sec behind the #7 car. Smiles and back slapping all around in our garage followed!

Pole position for #7 Alex and Nico

The lap time confusion continued as the race stewards announced that the times were not yet confirmed due to software glitches. An hour after Qualifying concluded for LMP1 & LMP2, we finally received confirmation of our momentous start to the 2013 FIA WEC season with a front row lock out.

Driver Diary video series with Sébastien

Here’s what our drivers had to say:

“It was a new qualifying format but today it was totally overshadowed by the weather conditions. With a rain shower at the beginning and a drying track at the end it was quite tricky. Nico did a super job in the first stint. I took over the car with slick tyres and the circuit was dry enough to put in a good lap time. So we are very happy; we have pole position and that’s what we like.”
– Alex

 

“It is a really good start to the season getting the pole position here at Silverstone in those difficult conditions. It was a good strategy from the engineers, drivers and all the team. Pole position is one thing but also getting the fastest lap is very important for us and gives us confidence for tomorrow. The car is looking good. It will be a tough race but it’s so important for us to start first and second on the grid so we are very happy right now.”
– Nicolas

 

“It was a difficult qualifying session with mixed conditions, but it was good fun. It was the right call to start on the intermediates; I felt really confident and was pushing as hard as I wanted. When we swapped drivers we continued on the inters whereas the #7 went on to slicks and ultimately that was the right thing to do. We played it safe because we had a comfortable advantage and we got the result we needed. First and second is a really good start to the championship.”
– Anthony

 

“It was a fantastic qualifying. We can be very happy to beat the Audis. Obviously it is just qualifying and in endurance this doesn’t decide anything but to start from the front row is great. Tactically it was a very difficult call on the tyres because the circuit was wet to start with and dried really quickly. We split the cars, with us staying on intermediates and the #7 switching to slicks. At the end of the session the inters were not the ideal tyres for the conditions but we managed first and second, which is the most important thing.”
– Sébastien

We’re now looking forward to tomorrow’s race. Our engineers are pouring over all the data gathered through the sessions to ensure we’ll have a good setup for the race.

The six-hour race will commence from a rolling start tomorrow at 12:00 GMT.

Follow our live Silverstone coverage on Twitter @Toyota_Hybrid

Very happy engineers and mechanics

 

Photo gallery from Saturday. For our full Friday gallery in high resolution click here

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