As Round 2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship, 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, is taking place on a condensed two-day race weekend, we will continue to keep this post updated as the weekend progresses. Read more after the break.
– Free Practice Report
– Qualifying Report
– Friday Gallery
– Warm Up Report
– Race Report
– Saturday Gallery
Updated: 18:00 CET
We arrived at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps this morning to find a wet track nestled in mist-covered Ardennes. Free Practice kicked off bright and early at 09:00 CET with air temperature around 11°C and track temperature just under 13°C. Audi were the first to set fast times in wet conditions.
We headed out early on to better understand track conditions to decide tyre choice for somewhat variable conditions on the 7.004km circuit. As the track dried out, Nicolas Lapierre (car #7) and Sébastien Buemi (car #8) both came in for intermediate tyres. The two drivers started to trade fastest laps, being the first to head below the 2min20sec mark.
When the chequered flag fell to end the first session of the weekend, we were P4 with car #7 (2:02.856, +0.884sec) and P6 with car #8 (2:03.146, +1.1sec).
The afternoon saw the sun come through pleasantly. Free Practice 2 started with dry track conditions with air temperature over 17°C and track temperature hovering around the 27°C mark. Alex Wurz in car #7 was the first to throw down the gauntlet, setting a time of 2:04.463 on the second lap. For the first quarter of the session, the battle to lead the time sheets was between Alex and the Audi drivers.
The remainder of the session saw both our cars run extended stints in preparation for the weekend ahead. By the end of the two-hour session, we were in P5 with car #7 (2:02.332, +1.0sec) and P6 with car #8 (2:02.332, +1.2sec).
Next up: Qualifying which starts at 19:30 for LMP1 and LMP2 cars. The session lasts 30 minutes (10 minutes longer than Silverstone due to the length of the track). Check back later tonight for the result and report.
In the meantime, Anthony Davidson shared his thoughts earlier this morning. Watch it below.
Updated: 21:00 CET
Since the FIA WEC season-opening race at Silverstone last month, we’ve been introduced to a new qualifying format. Two drivers from each car must set at least two timed laps. The average of the four fastest laps (two from each driver) is then averaged to determine the final starting grid. In Silverstone, unfortunately, we experienced a rather lengthy niggle for the new format when the timing computers suffered a technical glitch.
It was an hour after Qualifying before the times were confirmed. No such glitch at Spa, luckily!
Contrary to the weather report on my phone, rain stayed away from Spa as the sun began to set over the track. Alex Wurz in car #7 and Stéphane Sarrazin in car #8 were up first.
After the out lap and just one timed lap for most of the field, the dreaded red flag flew caused by one of the competitors further down the field. For Spa, the FIA WEC organisers extended the time allotted for Qualifying to 30 minutes due to the extensive length of the track. The red flag not only disrupted the rhythm of the session, we also lost precious time to tackle the 7.004km circuit.
Our #7 car, running the revised 2013-spec for the first time, took on Spa in Le Mans low-downforce package. We kept the 2012 high-downforce package for the #8 car which went on to pick up a podium finish at Silverstone last month.
Unfortunately, neither of these packages matched the specific nature of Spa. We ended Qualifying in a disappointing P4 (car #7) and P5 (car #8). Car #7’s average time was 2:00.947 (+0.9sec) and #8 was 2:01.203 (+1.2sec).
Nevertheless, we aim to achieve solid results in tomorrow’s six-hour race. The, normally, unpredictable weather at Spa can also throw an unexpected result.
Thanks for the messages and contact from everyone who’s been following us online. Our live coverage from Spa continues on Twitter (@Toyota_Hybrid) tomorrow.
Alex chatted to us straight after Qualifying. Here’s what he said:
Updated: 10:00 CET
We’ve just had morning Warm Up, reinstated at Spa-Francorchamps due to the short two-day race weekend. Having a 20-minute Warm Up session in the morning ahead of the race allows teams to fine-tune their set up for the long race starting later this afternoon at 14:30 CET.
Our two cars went out early on at the front of the queue in the pit lane. Both set lap times of around 2min 03sec before car #7 with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel returned briefly to the pits for tyres. The session ended with car #7 in P5 with 2:02.275 while Sébastien Buemi in the #8 car moved up to P3 with 2:02.050 in the closing minutes of Warm Up.
We’ll bring you a short half race update later this afternoon, so keep checking back!
In the meantime, discover the differences between our 2012 high-downforce TS030 HYBRID and the updated 2013-spec #7 car we’re running this weekend.
Updated: 23:00 CET
We leave the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps with mixed feelings after missing out on the podium. Our #8 drivers Anthony Davidson, Stéphane Sarrazin and Sébastien Buemi in the 2012-spec TS030 HYBRID drove a solid race to finish fourth.
Unfortunately, our #7 car of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima was forced to retire after half distance when the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing stopped recovering energy. As the car is designed to combine regenerative braking with traditional hydraulic braking, both essential for normal operations, the #7 car suffered overheating rear brakes, forcing us to retire.
Nevertheless, the #7 car showed a really strong race pace from the start with Nicolas shooting up to P2 after the first corner. During the first half of the race, we were all treated to some enthralling wheel-to-wheel action on track between Nicolas in the #7 car and the Audis.
The #8 kept up the challenge for a podium and Sébastien took on the fight for the final stints. Late contact with a lapped car caused damage which hindered his performance for the final stretch. Even so, he brought the car back home to the chequered flag for the 2012-spec TS030 HYBRID’s final race.
The next round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship is the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month on June 22-23.