Toyota tops LeMans test times

The Japanese Toyota team continues to eat Audi's lunch in 2014

Toyota Racing’s build-up to this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours took another positive step on Sunday (1 June) with the two Toyota TS040 Hybrid setting the fastest lap times during official testing. More importantly, both cars completed a trouble-free and productive test, completing 88 laps and a distance of 1,200km.

Le Mans is the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship and Toyota Racing will enter the event as championship leaders, having won the earlier races at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps. Those results have earned the team a 48-point lead over their manufacturer rivals, Audi and Porsche.

The test day’s two four-hour sessions were the only opportunity for teams to test on the track before the competition begins with free practice and qualifying on 11 June. It was also the first run at Le Mans for the new TS040 Hybrid and the team made the most of the opportunity to evaluate aerodynamic and mechanical set-ups and a range of Michelin slick tire compounds.

The Japanese Toyota team services their No. 8

The 2014 Toyota Hybrid System was also put through its paces, with the team analyzing how best to exploit the 480hp of four-wheel drive boost it provides. The system contributes to a maximum output of 1,000hp – greater than in last season’s TS030 Hybrid, but with 25 per cent lower fuel consumption.

Anthony Davidson, who pilots the No8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid with Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Lapierre, said: “The car felt strong all day and had a nice balance. We went through the program and achieved a lot. Straight out of the box this morning the car had a good balance and that allowed us to work on the smaller details. Generally it has been a productive day and I am looking forward to coming back here for race week."

The No8 car posted its best time of 3:23.014 during the afternoon session, just a tenth of a second clear of the No7 Toyota, which produced a best of 3:23.156.

The Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Audi intensively used the only testing opportunity for the Le Mans 24 Hours at the ‘Circuit des 24 Heures.’ The three R18 e-tron quattro cars on a total of 284 laps completed an aggregate of 3,870 kilometers before the 82nd running of the iconic endurance race on June 14 and 15.

The eight hours of testing at La Sarthe proved very valuable for Audi. During the four hours in the morning, Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Tom Kristensen (BR/F/DK) in car number 1, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Treluyer (CH/D/F) in the number 2 R18 e-tron quattro and Filipe Albuquerque/Marco Bonanomi (P/I) in the third car put all the set-up work into on-track action. In addition to the final aerodynamic configuration, the mechanically generated grip was another focal point of the program. Furthermore, all eight drivers had the first opportunity at Le Mans to align their race cars and their personal driving styles with the energy consumption targets which the regulations specifically define for each track. In the morning, Marco Bonanomi, on setting a lap time of 3m 23.799s, achieved the fastest time in the first practice session.

During the course of 125 laps (1703.625 km) the Audi drivers met the requirements set by the engineers with such precision that all three driver squads were able to use the afternoon for extensive tire tests. The objective was to test the performance of the fundamentally new tire generation over the long run. Three interruptions of the practice session by red flags interfered with their rhythm only in a minor way. After 159 laps in the afternoon, Audi looked back on a total of 3870.636 kilometers driven. Filipe Albuquerque/Marco Bonanomi finished the practice session as the best Audi squad in third place.

"Our drivers, Audi Sport Team Joest and all Audi Sport employees fully accomplished an ambitious program today and in doing so performed valuable work," said Audi Head of Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The squad surpassed our expectations. Now, in the remaining week before the event, we’re going to analyze this data in order to find an optimal set-up for all three race cars."

Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport, was pleased at the end of the test day as well. "We completed a long and extensive program on the test day. My thanks go to all the people involved in this project, who are looking back on some tough weeks and months. We’re entering the race week with the feeling of being thoroughly prepared. We know how tough Le Mans will be this year. Now we’re all focusing our joint efforts on a single big aim – we’re set on battling for victory in two weeks from now."

Action in race week starts on Wednesday 11 June with a four-hour practice at 3pm before two hours of qualifying from 9pm. Qualifying continues on Thursday with further two-hour sessions (6pm and 9pm). After a 45-minute warm-up (8am), the race starts at 2pm on Saturday (times quoted are UK/BST).

Test day results (parts 1 and 2 combined)

1 Buemi/Davidson/Lapierre (Toyota), 3m 23.014s
2 Nakajima/Sarrazin/Wurz (Toyota), 3m 23.156s
3 Albuquerque/Bonanomi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 3m 23.799s
4 Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 3m 24.453s
5 Dumas/Jani/Lieb (Porsche), 3m 24.692s
6 Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro), 3m 24.757s
7 Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (Porsche), 3m 24.911s
8 Beche/Heidfeld/Prost (Rebellion-Toyota), 3m 31.700s
9 Belicchi/Kraihamer/Leimer (Rebellion-Toyota), 3m 33.043s
10 Canal/Pla/Rusinov (Morgan-Nissan), 3m 37.795s

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