Toy­ota slows it­self down

Autosport (UK) - - PIT + PADDOCK - GARY WATKINS

Toy­ota has done the right thing by the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship.

It has seen “the big pic­ture”, ac­cord­ing to tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Pas­cal Vas­selon, and agreed to a dou­ble per­for­mance hit de­signed to bring the pri­va­teers in LMP1 closer ahead of this week­end’s Fuji round.

The Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer has un­der­stood that the cham­pi­onship needs to pro­vide a bet­ter show than at Sil­ver­stone in Au­gust. It con­cedes that the prospect of the two Toy­ota TS050 HYBRIDS re­peat­edly run­ning away at the front of the field from the non-hy­brid in­de­pen­dents could un­der­mine the

WEC as it plots a bright new fu­ture with the new reg­u­la­tions for 2020-21.

“We came to the con­clu­sion that we could not con­tinue as at Sil­ver­stone,” said Vas­selon, whose cars fin­ished four laps up on the best of the pri­va­teers be­fore their ex­clu­sion for a tech­ni­cal in­fringe­ment. “We clearly need to pro­vide a bet­ter spec­ta­cle.”

That’s why it has agreed to a 26kg hike in the min­i­mum weight of the TS050S and a re­moval of the two-lap ad­van­tage in stint length en­shrined in the orig­i­nal Equiv­a­lence of Tech­nol­ogy, the means by which the rule­mak­ers have been at­tempt­ing to bring the pri­va­teers closer to the front over the course 2018-19 WEC su­per­sea­son.

These EOT changes cover the re­main­der of the su­per­sea­son and the 2019-20 WEC – the first to run to a ‘win­ter-se­ries’ for­mat – with the ex­cep­tion of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The EOT that came into force at Sil­ver­stone will re­main in force for the 2019 and ’20 edi­tions of the French en­duro.

Vas­selon stated that the agree­ment does not cover Le Mans for two rea­sons. “The gap should have been much closer at Le Mans be­cause of the lower en­ergy re­lease per kilo­me­tre for our cars. At Le Mans we have 55% less [hy­brid] power,” he ex­plained. “At the main mar­ket­ing event of the year we also need to keep this one-lap ad­van­tage; it has to do with the mar­ket­ing value of the se­ries. Hy­brid cars should be seen to be run­ning longer”

Vas­selon said the in­crease in the weight of the Toy­otas to 904kg would prob­a­bly cost them half a se­cond per lap, but he re­fused to be drawn on whether the changes would al­low the pri­va­teers to mount a chal­lenge. “How close they are may vary from track to track, so it is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict,” he ex­plained. “What we don’t un­der­stand is why the big change for Sil­ver­stone did not al­ter the sit­u­a­tion. The ad­van­tage the pri­va­teers should have gained from Spa to Sil­ver­stone did not ma­te­ri­alise.”

Asked if this was the fi­nal EOT change, Vas­selon (be­low) replied: “The last one was meant to be the fi­nal one, so we should be at the end of the story.”

LAT

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