Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France was the site of Toyota Racing's first full test of its new
TS030 Hybrid LMP1
race car that will compete in selected races of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), starting with one car at Spa-Francorchamps and adding a second for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Following the three-day rollout of the car at the same track earlier this month, the team used a configuration of the Paul Ricard track that incorporates the MIstral Straight, they said. All three drivers
, Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima had the opportunity to test the car, which features the Toyota Hybrid System - Racing (THS-R) powertrain.
The team had several areas to study this week, including the THS-R system, particularly during longer stints, while they were taking the first steps toward optimizing the aerodynamic and mechanical setups of the car. The trio also, for the fist time, evaluated the Michelin tire compounds produced for this particular car.
After more than 2,000 kilometers of testing over the three days at Paul Ricard, "We can be pleased with the outcome of this test," said Yoshiaki Kinoshita, team president. "It has gone smoothly and delivered a lot of very useful data which will help us prepare for our first season back in endurance racing."
Toyota Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon believes the team is a bit behind schedule "in terms of total mileage. We have made very good use of our track time," he submitted, "and it's important at this stage to give a first indication to our tire partner (Michelin) about the development direction" needed for this car. "At the same time the pace is increasing as our drivers explore closer to the boundaries of the performance envelope of our package."
Frenchman Lapierre "had the opportunity to do longer stints and it's great to cover more laps; we are becoming more familiar with the car. Weather conditions were perfect and consistent when I drove so we saw how the car reacts to our changes," he said.
Nakajima was excited "to jump in for the first time and finally drive it for real after a few sessions in virtual reality on the TMG simulator. The car has a lot of potential and gives the driver confidence."
Former Le Mans winner Wurz spent much of the test working on setups, drivability and traction control, he explained. "We are just beginning to work on tire evaluations. More and more we test," Wurz said, "more and more we find things to improve. That's positive."
Next test for Toyota Racing's TS030 Hybrid comes in mid-February.