The #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López finished both Friday practice sessions ahead of the pack as the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship headed to Shanghai Circuit in China.
The first session of the day saw the team lapping at a fastest time of 1:47.182, before they improved to 1:44.741 in the second session, just 0.279 seconds slower than the 2016 pole position time.
“It has been a decent first day.” said Mike Conway. “We have been continuously improving the car and working out which tyres to use.
“This circuit is very hard on tyres so that is an important point for us. We still have some homework to do in a few areas but it’s been an encouraging day overall.”
Team-mate Kamui Kobayashi was happy with his performance and impressed with his fellow team-mates as they took the initiative on track. “We were on top in both sessions and it’s a long time since we had a Friday like that. We have made a good step forward on our car and the lap times are strong. Of course, there is still more to come and we are working to find the best balance. It is only Friday but it’s a good start.”
José María López added, “It’s my first time in a TS050 HYBRID at this track so I have been trying to find the rhythm. It’s nice to see the performance of our car here but Sunday is the day to deliver the result.
“So we will work hard tomorrow to stay on top; we have some very important set-up and tyre decisions to make.”
The sister #8 car of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima finished the sessions in fourth and second as they hang on narrowly in the championship fight.
“It is always nice to finish first and second.” said Buemi. “In general we have had a constructive day and made some improvements. It’s going to be a tough fight, we know this, but we seem to be in the game which is positive.
“The difference will be in the details so we need to work hard on getting everything right.”
Anthony Davidson was happy to be back in the car once again and is looking forward to the rest of the weekend, “It was great to be back in the car at this track, which I really enjoy. It was also nice to drive in the dry after all the rain in Fuji; I think everyone needed that.
“Our pace was okay compared to Porsche which is good news but we lacked a little compared to our sister car so we have to look into that.” he added.
Kazuki Nakajima used the sessions to compare tyre componds, “We need to look at the data to work out which is the best option.” said the Japanese driver. “We are missing a bit on our car; the balance didn’t feel great for me today so we will try to get it right for qualifying and the race. That is obviously our main focus.”