Florida fling for Toyota Gazoo Racing

Florida fling for Toyota Gazoo Racing

08.03.2019: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing resumes its 2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season following the winter break with its first-ever visit to Florida, for the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing resumes its 2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season following the winter break with its first-ever visit to Florida, for the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

Another one-two victory in Shanghai in November ensured TOYOTA led both the drivers’ and teams’ World Championships going into the four-month winter break and the team returns to action at Sebring determined to extend that advantage with a fifth win of the season.

In the #7 TS050 HYBRID, unlike team-mate Kamui Kobayashi who is a Sebring rookie, Mike Conway and José María López have both raced previously at the track, with Mike earning an overall podium for third place finishes in the legendary 12-hour race in 2017 and 2018.

Sébastien Buemi is the only one of the World Championship-leading #8 TS050 HYBRID line-up to have previously raced at Sebring but, alongside team-mates Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso, he will aim for an improvement on 2017, when his Rebellion Racing car did not finish after starting from pole position.

The team, including all drivers, got its first chance to experience the specific character of the 17-turn, 6.019km Sebring International Raceway during a three-day test in early February. Over 4,000km of running was completed on the famously-bumpy circuit, including an endurance test at night.

TOYOTA has enjoyed previous success at the former World War II airfield, which has hosted the Sebring 12 Hours since 1952. The Eagle Mark III Toyota, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio II and Andy Wallace, won the race in 1992 and 1993 on its way to the IMSA GT Championship titles.

This month’s WEC race in Florida will run within the same event as the Sebring 12 Hours. For the first time ever, a WEC race will take place on a Friday, with the 1,000 miles to run from 4pm to midnight local time prior to a Saturday morning start for the IMSA race.

As well as a unique timetable, the team must also adjust to a different pit lane. In common with endurance racing across the Atlantic, Sebring features an ‘American wall’ concept that, unlike typical WEC venues, features a wall to separate the garage area and pit lane. To prepare for this, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing mechanics have practiced in Cologne with a mock-up of the Sebring pit arrangement.

The final steps of preparation before the event take place this weekend, with an official WEC test on Saturday and Sunday in which all competitors will complete two days of running, prior to the start of official practice sessions on Wednesday.

Hisatake Murata, Team President:
“Sebring is the start of the final part of the 2018-2019 season so we have an important three races ahead of us with a clear goal to secure the World Championships and win Le Mans again.

This will be our first time to race at Sebring and I think this is an exciting challenge for the team and drivers. I have heard so much about the special atmosphere there so I cannot wait to experience it for myself and I hope we can give the American fans an exciting event.”

- Alastair Moffit - photos TGR


08.03.2019 / MaP

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