Ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in two weeks time, Toyota debuted its duo of TS030 Hybrid race cars at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe for the first test day, finishing with solid times, but still short of the Audis that have dominated the sport for a decade.
With the fourth and fifth fastest times (Audis took the top three spots), Toyota Motorsport car No. 7, shared by pilots Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima managed a 3:27.204 best lap time. Car No. 8, shared by Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi (as well as Stephane Sarrazin who was absent due to an injury) managed a best lap time of 3:28.298s. The No. 8 car until this point had only undergone a brief shakedown.
“Today was a significant step for us because it was our first chance to see the car on track against our opposition at Le Mans,” said Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President. “It’s hard to judge lap times but it certainly strengthens our racing spirit. Overall we are satisfied to complete a full day’s running with both cars without any significant issue; the only interruptions came with some minor bodywork damage.”
The same can’t be said for the Audis, which, while dominant saw a fuel leak early on in the day. That problem is minor, however, compared to damage sustained in a crash with pilot Alan McNish behind the wheel.
Comparing numbers, the best Toyota time was 1.3 seconds off the pace of the fastest Audi.
Look for the two rivals to hit the track in competition, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans running June 16-17th.