1000 Miles of Sebring: Productive Prologue for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season officially began at Sebring International Raceway with the two-day Prologue test at the legendary Florida venue. The traditional test is a curtain-raiser for the first round of the 2022 season, when TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will begin the defence of its World Championships in the 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday.
On a weekend when set-up development and data gathering were the priorities, neither GR010 HYBRID went in search of outright lap times as the team adjusted to the newly-implemented balance of performance, which includes a higher deployment speed for the hybrid motor. The #8 crew of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa set the ninth fastest lap of the two days, 1min 49.101secs.
Sebring, built on a former airfield from the 1940s, is famous for its bumpy, concrete surface, so the team worked immediately to optimise suspension and aerodynamic settings on the GR010 HYBRID for this unique challenge.
A heavy storm interrupted the first morning and halted the test around an hour earlier than planned due to the conditions. Strong winds continued but the rain passed and the track dried quickly to allow the team’s intense programme of set-up and tyre comparisons to continue in the afternoon.
Sunday started bright but unusually cold for Florida, with temperatures as low as 10°C in the morning. That allowed further testing of the various Michelin tyre compounds as well as further mechanical and aerodynamic set-up investigations.
A productive two days in terms of data gathered and understanding of how the GR010 HYBRID behaves around the Sebring circuit represents a positive end to pre-season preparations for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. The season kicks off on Wednesday with first practice sessions for the 1000 Miles of Sebring, before qualifying on Thursday and the race itself on Friday evening, beginning at midday local time and ending in darkness at 8pm.
“It’s been a good couple of days in terms of reliability. It’s such a bumpy track, so from that aspect I am happy to see how well the GR010 HYBRID coped with the circuit. It looks like it’s going to be tough to fight for victory because the LMP2s are very fast here. We will look at the data now and try to improve the car in every way we can. To be honest, I am quite happy with how things went, it’s just now we need to optimise what we have and go into the race weekend as prepared as we can. I am looking forward to going racing again, I must say.” Sébastien Buemi