Toyota Racing enjoyed a strong second place finish at Silverstone last weekend, in what was only their second competitive outing with the new for 2012 TS030 Hybrid.
The six hour race was an early indication of how the rest of the season could go following Toyota’s spectacular debut at Le Mans a couple of months ago. The Japanese manufacturer had been competitive for the opening six hours at Le Mans and led the race on merit before a crash and reliability problems took both cars out of contention.
Nevertheless, they arrived at Silverstone with high hopes for their single car entry, and caught people’s attention with a particularly revolutionary near rear wing.
After qualifying third on the grid behind the two Audis, Toyota surprised everyone to take the lead of the race just twenty one minutes into the race, with some daring overtaking passes through the GT traffic. However, on the day, Audi enjoyed better efficiency – with the TS030 making two pit stops more than the Audis.
Even so, they managed to hold on for a strong second place with all three drivers pleased with the team’s efforts given their relative lack of experience this year. A podium finish in only their second event will surely have felt as good as a victory.
“To get second place is a great result. This is only our second race, eight months after our first roll-out and we are fighting against a competitor who has more than a decade of experience. We have to optimize everything to win but it is fantastic to motivate even more our team. We have shown a really good pace and demonstrated the performance of our hybrid technology,” team leader Alex Wurz said.
“Of course I am pleased with this result and proud to take the first podium of the team in the WEC. My double stint was not easy; I was unlucky in the traffic. We had a really good pace today, with a car that delivered what we expected with our new aerodynamic package. We were consistent and clearly on the pace of our competitors. Our fastest lap shows our potential and we hope to win a race before the end of the season. I think we can make it; this will be the target,” Nicolas Lapierre said.
“I am really happy with this result even if we all want to make one more step higher on the podium. We had a good fight with our competitors and it was really nice to have this battle with Benoît Treluyer. I think everybody saw how well our Toyota Hybrid System – Racing is working. Despite a lot of traffic I had a good stint and the car was nice balanced. It was important for us to have a clean race and to achieve our first podium. We have some progress to make but we are ready for the next step,” former Williams F1 driver Kazuki Nakajima added.
“I am happy with this result. Not only did we prove the speed of the TS030 Hybrid by setting the fastest lap of the race and finishing on the podium in just our second race, we also had a completely trouble-free race. This is a credit to everyone here at the track but also those back at TMG, at Motor Sport Division in Higashifuji and TMC’s Hybrid Division. The drivers pushed hard throughout and gave the fans a really exciting race. Of course, we always dream about the top step of the podium but Audi got there before us this time. So congratulations to them; we’re looking forward to competing with them again in Brazil,” team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita concluded.