WEC: Toyota previews the 6 Hours of Spa

–Press Release–

A total of 13 Hypercars will face off in Belgium in the third round of the 2023 WEC season, the final contest before June’s Centenary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours, where TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will aim for its sixth consecutive victory, its last stop before Le Mans, at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on April 29th

The World Champions go into next Saturday’s race targeting a hat-trick of Hypercar victories at the start of the season after Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa won the last round, earlier this month in Portimão, in their #8 GR010 HYBRID.

A dominant victory elevated the #8 crew to the top of the World Championship standings but Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi José María López in the #7 GR010 HYBRID are only 13 points behind, despite suffering misfortune in Portimão on their way to ninth place.

Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche GT Team (#91), Gianmaria Bruni (I), Richard Lietz (A)

Spa-Francorchamps is an iconic circuit with a rich endurance racing heritage and it was part of the very first World Championship calendar in 1953. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has written its name in the Spa history books; in its 10 previous WEC races, the team has earned seven wins, including last year’s victory for the #7 GR010 HYBRID. It is unbeaten there in the Hypercar era.

The 7.004km circuit in the Ardennes forest is famed for its unpredictable weather and combination of exhilarating high-speed corners, which makes it a favourite for fans and drivers alike. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing can expect plenty of local support, with its Cologne base located 120km away, across the German border.

With the race beginning at 12.45 CEST on Saturday, the first two 90-minute practice sessions take place on Thursday. A final free practice on Friday morning is the last opportunity for adjustments prior to qualifying in the evening, which will set the 38-car grid for Saturday’s race.

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car #7):

“Spa is a very important race for us, because it’s our final step before Le Mans, which is our big target as always. It is also a home race for the team and we are looking forward to seeing plenty of colleagues and their families from our factory in Cologne during the event. There is always a great crowd at Spa and I am sure this year it will be even more impressive because of the big fight in Hypercar. Our competition is getting stronger with every race, and some will have additional cars in Spa, so it will be a tough task for the team and drivers. Spa is an amazing circuit but a lot can happen on this track, so we have to be at the top of our game to get everything right with set-ups and tires, and to avoid mistakes. It is the ideal preparation for Le Mans in many ways, and a strong result would be the perfect way to get ready for the Centenary race.”

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. World Endurance Championship. 6 Hours of Spa. 4th to 7th May 2022 Spa Francorchamps Circuit, Spa, Belgium

Mike Conway (Driver, car #7):

“Spa is always a good event, I love the place. We will go in there with confidence, but there are still a lot of unknowns so early in the season. I am sure we have the potential for another strong result there but there are more Hypercars than ever on the grid. In terms of our competition, we are approaching things on a race-by-race basis because things can change rapidly. This is the final race before the big one, so it’s important that we leave Spa with a good result and plenty of confidence going into Le Mans.”

José María López (Driver, car #7):

“Spa is a very special place and a fantastic track to drive, one of the best ones. We usually have a good race there but the weather can be a big challenge. You never know what it is going to be like and some years we have experienced all the seasons in one day. That’s a big test for the team, the drivers and our strategies. On top, this is the race just before Le Mans so it’s important to do everything right, test everything and prepare ourselves 100%.”

Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car #8):

“I really enjoy Spa because it’s a high-speed, old-school track with not much run-off, and I have had some great races there in the past. I have won five times in WEC, so obviously I am hoping to make it six this year. The main points at Spa are the weather and the tire management; these will be key factors. Degradation of the tires will be very important because we are obliged to do a double stint on the same tires and this is not easy.”

Brendon Hartley (Driver, car #8):

“I think every driver looks forward to going to Spa; it’s in everyone’s top-five tracks. It’s a beautiful place with big elevation changes and a lay-out that flows very nicely. It also has an incredible history in endurance racing and there is always a big crowd, so it’s a special place. The Spa weather is legendary, and we have little experience with our updated GR010 HYBRID on the new rain tires, so if it does rain, there are a few unknowns. That would be another step in our final Le Mans preparations.”

Ryo Hirakawa (Driver, car #8):

“I like Spa but I haven’t actually driven any racing laps there in the GR010 HYBRID yet. Last year we had an issue in the race before my stint, so I am looking forward to finally driving this car there in a race. It’s going to be another challenging event, I’m sure, because our competition is getting stronger at every race and we never know what the weather will be at Spa. This is an important race to be ready for Le Mans so we are focused on getting a strong result and being perfectly prepared.”

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