TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is targeting a return to winning ways when it competes on home ground this weekend in the 6 Hours of Fuji, the seventh round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
TOYOTA has dominated the Japanese round of WEC since it returned to top-level endurance racing in 2012, winning four of the five races held at the spectacular Fuji Speedway in the shadow of Mount Fuji.
Following a close and exciting challenge for victory last time out in Austin, the team is determined to add to its two wins this season in front of the usually large and passionate home crowd.
Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi won the race last year and will target a repeat result alongside José María López in the #7 TS050 HYBRID. Anthony Davidson returns from a one-off absence to join Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 car.
Fuji Speedway is a home race for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing not only as the sole Japanese round in the calendar; the TS050 HYBRID’s 1,000hp hybrid powertrain is developed and built just a few kilometres from the track, at Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre.
That means the on-track team benefits from significant moral support from colleagues who are not normally able to visit the circuit, beginning early in the week with visits from drivers and team management to Higashi-Fuji and other key partners.
Fuji Speedway, located around 110km from central Tokyo, has evolved significantly since its opening in 1965, when a fearsome banked oval section began at the first corner and made up half of the track length until a redesign in the mid-1970s.
The circuit has hosted 33 top-level six-hour or 1,000km endurance races since the first back in 1967 and TOYOTA, via icons such as the 2000GT and TOYOTA 7 as well as Group C cars and the recent hybrids LMP1s, has won 11 of these.
The target is to add another Fuji winner’s trophy to the collection this week as the TOYOTA versus Porsche battle in LMP1 takes place for the final time in Japan prior to the German manufacturer’s withdrawal from that category in WEC.
TOYOTA’s discussions regarding its own future participation in WEC are proceeding with all stakeholders. These have been the subject of various media reports, of varying degrees of accuracy, and a decision is expected within October, although not necessarily during the Fuji event.
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “Fuji is a new circuit for me, like many on the WEC calendar, so I need to learn the lay-out first. I’m excited to meet our fans at TOYOTA’s home race; I have heard a lot about them. Let’s hope we are strong and competitive. Mike, Kamui and the whole team are doing a fantastic job and pushing really hard so we can compete at the front.”