Toyota buoyed by strong WEC race pace
Former World Endurance Champion Anthony Davidson’s hopes of a first Le Mans victory have been boosted by the showing of the new Toyota TS050 HYBRID at Spa last weekend.
After a dire season in 2015, when Toyota was well off the pace set by Porsche and Audi, the #5 Toyota shared by Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, led the Spa 6 Hours comfortably and only lost victory when its new 2.4-litre direct injection twinturbo V6 engine, developed to replace the old normally aspirated V8 unit, failed.
Despite the disappointment, the Spa performance suggests Toyota can at least be in the mix for victory at Le Mans after only being able to finish a distant sixth last year.
“There are already good signs we will be more competitive at Le Mans,” Davidson said. “Whether we can win the race on merit on pure speed we will see, but I’m 100 per cent confident we will be much better than last year. And hopefully there is still more to come from this car.”
The Toyota was running in its regular aerodynamic configuration at Spa, whereas Audi and Porsche both used Le Mans-specification low-down-force. Although Toyota did have the Le Mans-spec available, it decided the regular one would be more competitive.
Davidson is confident the change to the powertrain has significantly boosted the car’s pace. The step up to the top level of hybrid system, the 8MJ class, has been made possible by the switch from a supercapacitor-based system to one using lithium-ion batteries.
“We have got to be relatively happy with what short a timeframe we had to design and develop this car, particularly the powertrain side of things,” said Davidson.
“We’ve got to be pleased by where we have got to. We are not quite there yet and we can still extract more performance.”
The TS050 led during WEC Spa
Davidson: signs are good