All six of the Toyota Racing drivers got stints behind the wheel on a difficult first day of running for the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The day was interrupted by three red flags, one of which kept the first qualifying session of the week down to just over half of its intended two hour duration as well as a rain shower during the four hour free practice session earlier in the day.
Furthermore the day ended early for Sebastien Buemi and the #8 team when the Swiss stopped out on track with a driveline failure shortly before qualifying was brought to an end when an LMP2 competitor crashed on the Mulsanne Straight.
“I basically did 10 corners in qualifying,” described Buemi, who shares the car with Anthony Davidson and Stephane Sarrazin. “I got to Indianapolis then I had the issue. So I can’t say much about the car this evening, but my team-mates were happy with the general feeling. Unfortunately we had the driveline issue but the red flag came out at the same time so we didn’t actually lose any laps as a result.”
“We were looking towards the race rather than qualifying today,” added Sarrazin. “It is a pity we did not get a chance to do any real qualifying run but the car feels good, it is stable and we all like the balance. I am confident we have a good set up for the race. Naturally it is not great to stop during the session but it’s better to have this problem on Wednesday rather than in the race.”
The problems limited the team to a best lap of 3:30.841 good enough for only sixth fastest as the #12 Rebellion Racing Lola slipped between the two Toyotas.
In the sister car Kazuki Nakajima was the best of a team completed by Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre. He lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:26.676 to secure fourth place but still trail the ultimate single lap pace set by the best of the Audis by over four seconds.
“I had a good run in qualifying but we want to show more performance,” said Nakajima. “We are still working to maximise our performance for the whole race more than the qualifying. There is more work to do but it was a constructive day and we know where we need to improve. We will be concentrating on our race because that is what matters.”
“It was a bit disappointing in terms of the classification,” admitted co-driver Lapierre. “The gap is more than we wanted but we spent our time looking at set-up for the race and we have made some steps. The red flag didn’t help us because we needed track time to test various items after rain on the test day disrupted our programme.”
He continued, turning his attention to Thursday’s two qualifying sessions; “we still have some items to analyse so we are looking for a full session tomorrow with both cars to get ourselves ready for the race.”