Toyota favourites heading to Le Mans

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

The Toyota TS040 Hybrid has firmed as the car to beat at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two wins in the opening rounds of the WEC season had already set up Toyota as the 2014 front runners and the TS040’s abilities at the Circuit de la Sarthe were confirmed after last weekend’s official test session, when the two Toyotas topped the lap charts.

Two weeks out from the event this is the only opportunity for the teams get to run the full Le Mans layout. After the two day session the fastest time around the 13.6km circuit was set by the #8 Toyota (3:23:014).

Audi set the early pace with its R18 e-tron quattro, but in the end the defending champions had to make do with the third and fourth best times. Audi is the only of the LMP1 teams to run three cars and the remaining R18 split the two Porsche 919 Hybrids. The #14 Porsche was fifth and Mark Webber’s #20 919 the seventh and slowest of the factory-backed LMP1 runners.

Full statements from the three teams can be read after the break. The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on 14–15 June with Australian television coverage available on Foxtel’s Speed TV channel.

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

Toyota Racing post fastest times in official Le Mans testing

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 tyre compounds.

The 2014 Toyota Hybrid System was also put through its paces, with the team analysing 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 programme 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.

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).

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

Successful test day for Audi R18 e-tron quattro

  • Albuquerque/Bonanomi fastest Audi drivers
  • All three hybrid sports cars thoroughly prepared
  • Audi Sport Team Joest gathers valuable data for race week

Ingolstadt/Le Mans, June 1, 2014 – 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 Tréluyer (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.”

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 Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (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

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

Sports Car World Championship WEC, Pre-race test Le Mans 24-Hours/France – LMP1

The Porsche 919 Hybrid arrives at the Sarthe

Australia. At the official pre-race test for the 24-hour race, the Porsche 919 Hybrid did its first laps in Le Mans on Sunday. During the morning session the Porsche Team covered 90 laps with the two innovative prototypes on the 13.629 kilometre track. In the afternoon the distance achieved was 103 laps. Because about nine kilometres of the legendary circuit are on public roads, normally it is impossible to test at the “Circuit de la Sarthe”.

Inside and around the paddock the infrastructure for the huge Porsche works entry on 14th/15th June is coming together – be it engineers’ offices, container buildings for the drivers to rest in or spare parts logistics and storage. The aerodynamic package of the Porsche 919 Hybrid had been modified for the high-speed track. The test programme went according to plan.

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal LMP1: “This has been a very productive day. We travelled to Le Mans with a long to-do list and managed to tick off every single topic without experiencing any unpleasant surprises. Both cars ran trouble-free and all the drivers were on duty. With the number 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid we focused on tyre evaluation in the morning, while the number 20 car was busy with mechanical and aerodynamic set-up work. In the afternoon the job lists for the cars were swapped. Race control did several simulations, which have been good drills for our team and drivers too. For example safety car periods and the so called ‘slow zones’ were practiced. We now have a lot of data to study. Today was a very good preparation for the drivers, engineers and mechanics – actually for everybody in the team. We would never have made it this far without our development department in Weissach – therefore thank you very much to all our colleagues at home.”

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid #14

Romain Dumas: “In the morning I was only able to do a few clear laps before the safety car came out. But in the afternoon it was much better, and we learnt a lot. Our car still tends to understeer and we will keep working on this for the race week. But both cars ran trouble-free, and that was our number one target.”

Neel Jani: “Overall it was a positive day, but we still have work to do. In the morning I found it quite difficult. The track was extremely dirty and we had to calibrate the hybrid system. But it was our car that was doing the most laps in the morning session. In the afternoon I was doing set-up work and I think we have found a good direction.”

Marc Lieb: “It was great fun to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid on this track. In the morning we were testing tyres and I have been quite happy with the results. In the afternoon we switched to set-up work and did a good long run. The car became quicker and quicker, which obviously is promising.”

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid #20

Timo Bernhard: “All went according to plan – even if others were on top of the time sheets. We did our fastest lap in the middle of a long run. We found a baseline set-up very quickly this morning. The car feels good, so I’m quite confident. This test is the only opportunity to drive here and we made the most of it. We will stay focussed and will turn the newly collected data into solutions. For example, we want to use the potential of the tyres better over the long runs.”

Brendon Hartley: “It was a great start for me here on this fantastic race track. We had no problems with either car and were able to try a lot of interesting things. We are improving in tyre management on long runs as well, and it was a good day for us.”

Mark Webber: “I was really looking forward to taking the car round here for the first time. I always enjoyed this track and the long lap. To come here with the Porsche 919 Hybrid is a big day for all of us and it ran smoothly. First thing in the morning I got my ten rookie laps out of the way, which are mandatory at the pre-race test when you haven’t raced here for a while. We then quickly were able to start working on the balance and set-up of the car. We are constantly improving and again we learnt a lot.”