TOYOTA Racing heads into the unknown this weekend with the FIA World Endurance Championship fraternity for the 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Keep checking back on our live blog for the latest.
The new US circuit in the calendar slots in as the fifth round of the championship, and an uncharted territory for the teams. We head to Austin with the #8 car of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin determined to bounce back after a promising but disappointing race in Brazil.
Great news for fans is that TOYOTA Racing also announced a return to Fuji Speedway with a complement of two cars. Fuji was the scene of our thrilling home victory last season.
In Interlagos, our new high-downforce aero package performed well and was on form to give our on-track competitors a good fight for the victory. However, an unfortunate accident where a lapped car hit Stéphane’s #8 car ended the team’s race weekend after just 35 minutes…
The newly-built 5.515km Circuit of the Americas features 20 corners with significant elevation changes, most notably the steep run up to the first corner. A total of four hybrid energy recovery zones allow the TS030 HYBRID to recover up to the 500kJ energy limit imposed by the regulations.
Find out how the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing works in this video:
Updated: 19/09/13 14:00 CST (UTC-6)
The cars took to the track this morning with a two hour official test session to help teams acclimatise to the new addition to the championship. Stéphane and Anthony both went behind the wheel of the #8 TS030 HYBRID and finished the session in P3 with the fastest time coming in at 1:52.408, +2.521s from the lead, completing 36 laps.
Updated: 20/09/13 14:00 CST (UTC-6)
The threat of rain held off this afternoon, at the circuit at least, as cars went out for the second and final official test session. The afternoon stayed warm with air temperature at 32.7°C and track temperature nearing 40°C at the start of the session. Stéphane took the wheel at the start before handing over to Sébastien. At the close of the session, Stéphane went back out again with the #8 car finishing in P3, +1.533s from the lead after 53 laps.
Stéphane spoke to us after the collective test sessions on how the team progressed. Watch the latest instalment of our Driver Diary series below:
Updated: 20/09/13 11:00 CST (UTC-6)
Thursday night saw the promised rain fall over Austin area. The Circuit of the Americas greeted us warm, humid and damp this morning. Heavy rain began to fall over the track 10min before the first session kicked off. Stéphane was the first out the pits and put in quick lap times given the tricky conditions, staying the P1. At the start of the session, both air and track temperatures were in the mid to high 20s (Celsius) while humidity kept at over 95% throughout the 90min session.
Anthony took to the track next under damp but changing conditions. When he finished his stint and handed over to Sébastien, he spoke to Radio Le Mans on the challenging heat we’ve already experienced at COTA so far. As FP1 came to a close, the sun started to break through the clouds and a dry line quickly appeared.
TOYOTA Racing TS030 HYBRID #8 finished the first proper session of the weekend in P3, +2.7s from the lead. The fastest lap of the session was set by Sébastien on lap 19, a 2:06:466. Next session starts at 15:25 local time.
Updated: 20/09/13 20:00 CST (UTC-6)
The second session of the day started with the skies opened again with a hard drizzle. Anthony was first out in the #8 and as track conditions changed, he came in to change tyres at the right moment to set two really quick laps to go in the lead. On lap 7, he set a 2:00.756, leading the pack by 3.3s before the downpour came and halted track action in the session. All cars returned to the pits and the jet blower was sent out into the rain storm to clear the track of gravel. The session ended with no further track action and the #8 in P1.
Anthony stopped by to chat to us after Free Practice 2. Watch our latest TOYOTA Racing Driver Diary video below:
Updated: 21/09/13 11:30 CST (UTC-6)
After the deluge yesterday, which registered record rainfall in the region so far this year, the final Free Practice session started under cloudy and windy conditions. Sébastien was the first to head out and was quickly on pace with 1:51.971 to top the time sheets. On lap 4, he brought the time down to below 1min50s to stay in the top two spots before handing over to Anthony. Stéphane took over for the final stint of the session with the #8 car finishing in P3 with the fastest time coming in at 1:49.677, +1s to lead.
Updated: 21/09/13 16:00 CST (UTC-6)
The morning’s clouds lifted and Qualifying for LMP1 and LMP2 started with the sun basking Austin. Air temperature were in the high 20s while track temperature hit the mid-30s (Celsius). Stéphane went out first in the #8 car and tagged by the #32 LMP2 Lotus from the back sending it into a spin on his third flying lap. Our car suffered minor rear damage forcing Stéphane to return to the pits to hand over to Sébastien and for our mechanics to replace the damaged rear wing. Sébastien headed out and went fast with 1min49s laps to bring the average time of four laps down to 1:49.696.
We will start tomorrow’s six hour endurance race from third place on the grid. The incident with #32 is still being investigated by the stewards, a second similar incident with same car in two races… After the session, Stéphane commented:
For those new to the series, let’s explain the Qualifying format. Two drivers from each car must head out and set a minimum of two timed laps each. The fastest four laps are then averaged to determine the grid position for race day.
Sébastien spoke to us after Qualifying about TOYOTA Racing’s preparations for the race at Circuit of the Americas so far and also an update on how the session went.
Updated: 22/09/13 20:00 CST (UTC-6)
Race Day began with an epic sunrise as teams started arriving at the Circuit of the Americas. Weather conditions were perfect for racing with a cloudless sky and warm temperatures.
The big news at the start of the big day was the birth of Anthony Davidson’s second child. The little baby girl was born during the early hours of the morning and Anthony was able to stay in touch with his wife Carrie via Skype. The team prepared a special present for Anthony before the race kicked off (see pic below).
Sébastien was first in the cockpit to take the rolling start from third on the grid. The race was slowed down immediately when the #31 Lotus stopped at Turn 1, bringing out the Safety Car to slow the field down as the stranded car was being recovered. The leaders maintained positions until the Safety Car returned to the pits when Sébastien took the fight to the Audis and went up to P2 very quickly.
Our #8 car took the lead in the first pit stop sequence as the competitors pitted before us. Sébastien doubled stinted and continued a strong run. The next pit stop brought a full petrol and tyre service as well as a driver change for Stéphane to take the wheel for the first time today before taking the lead himself as the lead Audi pitted on lap 73.
Chequered flag! We crossed the finish line after a hard fought, race-long battle runners-up in Texas for the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championships. This is our third podium this season, including a second place finish at Le Mans – the jewel in the WEC crown. The race was action packed and entertaining from the start for Anthony, Sébastien and Stéphane under really hot conditions with track temperature reaching above 40°C.
The TS030 HYBRID was able to get strong performance from the same set of tyres over two stints. This, combined with quick pit stops, reduced the amount of time the #8 needed to spend in the pits. Anthony took the wheel for a single stint before handing the #8 back to Sébastien. After an epic effort, Sébastien swapped with Stéphane for a final short stint and he took the chequered flag in second.
The next round is TOYOTA Racing’s home race, the Six Hours of Fuji on 20 October where the team will have two cars competing as the #7 of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima returns to action.
Watch our post-race Driver Diary with Stéphane below.
Updated: 24/09/13 17:00 CET