Hartley’s #8 Toyota quickest in Fuji Free Practice

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing began its home event with a busy day of practice for the 6 Hours of Fuji, the second race in the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season.

Under the shadow of Mount Fuji, the team took on a new technical challenge during today’s three hours of practice. The #8 TS050 HYBRID of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley set the fastest times in both sessions, with the #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, winners of the opening round at Silverstone last month, in third and fifth respectively.

At the team’s home race, its TS050 HYBRIDs have to contend with success handicap penalties for the first time, meaning hybrid boost, fuel energy per lap and fuel permitted per stint have all been reduced according to the points gap over the lowest-scoring LMP1 car.

For the World Championship-leading #7 TS050 HYBRID, these measures inflict a 1.4secs lap time penalty, while the #8 car suffers a one second handicap. With no prior experience of these specific changes, it meant a busy day for the crews as both cars analysed the implications and searched for the optimum car set-up.

The effect of the success handicap was clear in the lap times, with the #8 car’s fastest time today of 1min 25.623secs trailing 1.650secs slower than the best time last year in similar conditions, and 2.984secs behind the fastest-ever LMP1 lap at Fuji Speedway.

Despite heavy morning rain, the track was dry enough for slick tyres from the beginning of first practice and this continued into the second session, giving the team ideal conditions to gather data about the TS050 HYBRIDs around the 4.563km circuit.

Set-up at Fuji Speedway is a particular challenge due to the varied nature of the circuit, which has a 1.5km straight combined with fast corners early in the lap, before a very tight section at the end. As well as checking various aerodynamic, hybrid and mechanical set-ups to find the best compromise, both cars also evaluated tyre performance and degradation during the two practice sessions.

Car #7 lost some running in both sessions, due to a precautionary check of a hydraulic component in the first session and then due to floor damage following a kerb strike late in second practice, while car #8 ran without issue throughout.

Free practice 1 results:
1st#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing1min 27.373secs49 laps
2nd#1 Rebellion (Senna/Menezes/Nato)+0.286secs41 laps
3rd#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+0.417secs24 laps
4th#5 Ginetta (Ghiotto/Hanley/Orudzhev)+1.076secs7 laps
5th#6 Ginetta (Robertson/Simpson/Smith)+1.339secs8 laps
6th#33 High Class (Patterson/Yamashita/Fjordbach) +2.251secs34 laps
Free practice 2 results:
1st#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing1min 25.623secs49 laps
2nd#1 Rebellion (Senna/Menezes/Nato)+1.419secs42 laps
3rd#5 Ginetta (Ghiotto/Hanley/Orudzhev)+1.979secs30 laps
4th#6 Ginetta (Robertson/Simpson/Smith)+2.439secs23 laps
5th#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing+2.548secs34 laps
6th#38 JOTA (Gonzalez/da Costa/Davidson)+4.010secs50 laps

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