TOYOTA GAZOO Racing heads to Austin, Texas this week for the second North American round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas.
The team moved directly from Mexico City, venue of the last round on 3 September, to Austin for the sixth round of the season at a track which is hosting WEC for the fifth time.
Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi finished on the podium in Austin 12 months ago and will be aiming to repeat that feat, alongside #7 TS050 HYBRID team-mate José María López who will experience the circuit for the first time.
The #8 TS050 HYBRID features a revised driver line-up for this race. Anthony Davidson will not make the trip to Austin due to personal reasons, so his place alongside Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will be taken by Stéphane Sarrazin on a one-off basis.
The team endured a tough race in Mexico, finishing third and fourth after suffering a downforce deficit on rivals Porsche at the high altitude in Mexico City. That saw TOYOTA slip 56.5 points behind in the manufacturers’ standings, with the #8 crew now 41 points adrift in the drivers’.
At around 300m above sea level, the Circuit of the Americas should present no such problem, so the team travels to Texas looking to add to its three podiums at the track by earning a first win there.
The event adopts a different schedule this year, reverting to a daytime race after three years as a day-night contest. That presents a challenge for the team and drivers, with heat and humidity expected to be at their highest soon after the midday race start.
After Austin, the WEC season moves to Asia for the final three races, in Japan, China and Bahrain, which will decide the outcome of the World Championship titles.
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I am really excited to go back to Austin because it is a great place for a race. It will be my first time to race there but I have heard nice things from my team-mates so I cannot wait to learn the track and explore the city. The lay-out looks really interesting, particularly for a car like the TS050 HYBRID. We will take the fight to Porsche and aim to get back on the podium.”