Toyota Gazoo Racing leads Le Mans opening day

Toyota Gazoo Racing leads Le Mans opening day

17.09.2020: TOYOTA GAZOO Racing set the fastest lap times when track action began prior to the 88th Le Mans 24 Hours, as its challenge for a hat-trick of victories in the legendary French race began strongly.


TOYOTA GAZOO Racing set the fastest lap times when track action began prior to the 88th Le Mans 24 Hours, as its challenge for a hat-trick of victories in the legendary French race began strongly.
 




On a busy practice day, qualifying decided the participants for Friday’s hyperpole contest, in which the leading cars fight for the top six grid positions in each class. Both TS050 HYBRIDs will participate against the other LMP1 contenders, and will challenge for a fourth consecutive TOYOTA pole position at Le Mans.



FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) leaders Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 TS050 HYBRID, set the pace with a lap of 3mins 17.089secs. Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, winners of the last two Le Mans 24 Hours, partner Brendon Hartley this year in the #8 TS050 HYBRID and they were second quickest, only 0.247secs adrift around the 13.626km circuit.



As with many aspects of life this year, the Le Mans schedule features many changes brought on by the current circumstances. With the traditional pre-event test day not taking place, today was the first time for the cars to drive on the Circuit de la Sarthe since last year’s race in June.



With no previous experience of the latest low-downforce-specification TS050 HYBRID at Le Mans, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing made full use of the extensive practice sessions to prepare for the weekend’s race.



Sébastien had the honour of recording the first timed lap for a TS050 HYBRID at Le Mans this year, at the beginning of the opening three-hour practice. The team used that time to analyse the aerodynamic characteristics of the low-downforce package, fine-tuning the set-up for the best compromise between high speed on the long Mulsanne Straight and appropriate downforce around the sweeping Porsche curves.



With little time between sessions, the pressure was on drivers and team members to avoid any mistakes or mechanical issues which could limit running later in the day. Thanks to their hard work, a busy first session was completed without drama, with Kazuki setting the quickest lap in the #8, 3mins 21.656secs, and Kamui recording the best time for the #7, 0.334secs behind in second.



After a 60-minute break, a second three-hour practice began and the team made further progress on set-up development, analysing tyre performance and comparing mechanical and hybrid settings. The session was interrupted by red flags following accidents for LMP2 cars, and it again finished with the #8 on top, Sébastien having set the best time. The quickest effort from the #7, set by Mike, was second, 0.892secs behind.



A combined total of 127 laps during the two practice sessions, covering 1,730km, accelerated the team’s preparations for qualifying, which took place on a hot evening, with air temperatures of 29°C.




Kamui, who set the fastest-ever Le Mans laps in 2017, and Kazuki, a two-time pole position winner at La Sarthe, took qualifying duties at the beginning of the session. Kazuki set the fastest first two sectors in the #8 car but Kamui’s sector three time earned him the fastest lap.



All drivers had a chance to experience the qualifying session, but those early flying laps on new tyres and with low fuel were not beaten, leaving the #7 in first place with the #8 just behind. The #1 Rebellion rounded out the top three, 4.509secs slower.



Further race preparations will take place later on Thursday with a four-hour practice, while the grid-deciding hyperpole session takes place on Friday at 11.30am local time.






Qualifying results:


1st    #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    3min 17.089secs    12 laps
2nd    #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    +0.247secs    13 laps
3rd    #1 Rebellion (Senna/Nato/Menezes)    +4.509secs    12 laps
4th    #4 Bykolles (Dillmann/Spengler/Webb)    +7.379secs    12 laps
5th    #3 Rebellion (Dumas/Berthon/Deletraz)    +7.543secs    11 laps
6th    #29 Racing Team Nederland (van Eerd/van der Garde/de Vries)    +9.559secs    6 laps           



Free practice 1 results:



1st    #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    3min 21.656secs    32 laps
2nd    #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    +0.334secs    30 laps
3rd    #1 Rebellion (Senna/Nato/Menezes)    +1.499secs    33 laps
4th    #3 Rebellion (Dumas/Berthon/Deletraz)    +3.560secs    33 laps
5th    #4 Bykolles (Dillmann/Spengler/Webb)    +6.786secs    34 laps
6th    #33 High Class (Yamashita/Patterson/Fjordbach)    +8.217secs    31 laps
           



Free practice 2 results:

1st    #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    3min 19.719secs    33 laps
2nd    #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    +0.892secs    32 laps
3rd    #3 Rebellion (Dumas/Berthon/Deletraz)    +3.456secs    29 laps
4th    #29 Racing Team Nederland (van Eerd/van der Garde/de Vries)    +7.466secs    23 laps
5th    #4 Bykolles (Dillmann/Spengler/Webb)    +7.585secs    24 laps
6th    #37 Jackie Chan (Tung/Aubry/Stevens)    +8.292secs    25 laps



 


Alastair Moffit -

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/toyota-gazoo-racing-leads-le-mans-opening-day---212750.html

17.09.2020 / MaP

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