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British ace An­thony Davidson in­sists that his Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing team has the tools to fight for FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship vic­to­ries again this year, but pos­si­bly not at Sil­ver­stone’s open­ing round this week­end.

Toy­ota has worked solidly over the win­ter to de­velop its new TS050 Hy­brid LMP1 chal­lenger, with which it hopes to chal­lenge world cham­pion Porsche and mul­ti­ple cham­pion Audi Sport.

The Ja­panese team was hum­bled last year as both the 919 Hy­brid and R18 e-tron qu­at­tro made mas­sive gains in lap time, rel­e­gat­ing the 2014 world cham­pion team to dis­tinctly third best ev­ery week­end.

Toy­ota has re­acted by adopt­ing a new tur­bocharged petrol en­gine and bat­tery energy stor­age sys­tem for this year. Davidson, who will share his TS050 with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Naka­jima, told Motorsport News that the team’s out­look for this year was far more pos­i­tive.

“It’s early to say to what ex­tent we have turned things around with the new car, but the feel­ing is very pos­i­tive so far,” said Davidson. “This time last year we knew we were up against it. We’d seen Porsche and Audi’s lap times and we were so bla­tantly off the pace. This year is a to­tal turn­around in that re­spect as we’re feel­ing pos­i­tive with our pace and we know we’ve closed the gap.”

Toy­ota’s build process for the new ma­chine has been only a mat­ter of months. Davidson said the team’s Sil­ver­stone per­for­mance won’t rep­re­sent the car’s true pace.

“We’ve only had six months to to­tally re­design the en­gine and hy­brid pack­age and ev­ery com­po­nent is new – even the steer­ing wheel is new,” he added.

“At the moment the fo­cus is on Le Mans, so Sil­ver­stone may be a bit of a learn­ing ex­er­cise to help us get ready for the big one in France.”

Porsche com­fort­ably topped the WEC Pro­logue group test in Paul Ri­card re­cently, with Toy­ota set­ting the third fastest time – just 0.8s off the fastest 919 Hy­brid.

“The Pro­logue is dif­fi­cult to read but it gives you a feel for the peck­ing or­der,” added Davidson. “Porsche is al­ways strong there, so we take the times with a pinch of salt. But we have a brand new car that we’re learn­ing. The change from the old su­per­ca­pac­i­tor to the bat­tery changes the way you think as a driver, but the ba­sics in the car re­main the same.

“The key thing will be see­ing which brand has man­aged to re­tain the most power from their en­gines as we’re al­lowed less fuel per lap this sea­son.” For a full tech­ni­cal in­sight into the new TS050 Hy­brid see page 16.

Davidson is lead­ing Brit

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