Toyota ready for high-altitude WEC challenge
- Toyota GAZOO Racing chasing season’s third WEC victory
- High down-force package on TS050 HYBRID cars for rarefied air in Mexico City
- New team president Murata says coming circuits suit the Toyota
Toyota’s world endurance championship HYBRID team is chasing its third victory of the season in this weekend’s Mexico City round, the first round of the season outside Europe.
Toyota GAZOO Racing has entered two TS050 prototypes with the team’s high-down-force aerodynamic package for this the fourth 6-hour race of the season.
At 2,285m above sea level, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has much thinner air than most circuits, making it harder to generate down force.
In the #8 TS050 HYBRID, Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima are fighting for the drivers’ world championship following victories in Britain and Belgium.
The #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López has been on pole position three times this season and the crew travels to Mexico targeting a first win of the year.
The 4.304km circuit in Mexico City re-joined the WEC calendar in 2016 after a 25-year absence, with Conway and Kobayashi finishing third for Toyota GAZOO in a remarkable recovery after missing most of practice due to accident damage.
This year’s Mexico race represents Hisatake Murata’s first as Team President and sees the championship move into the ‘fly away’ phase, with coming rounds in the United States, Japan, China and Bahrain.
Murata said work had continued apace at the Toyota GAZOO facilities in Higashi-Fuji (Japan) and Cologne for Mexico.
“The coming circuits suit our car quite well and we are still fighting for both the driver and manufacturer championships, so we know it is important to score a lot of points in every race,” he said.
The drivers are looking forward to the circuit’s famed stadium section and enthusiastic crowds.
“I really enjoyed racing in Mexico last year. It’s a tight and twisty track which makes it challenging with the traffic and overtaking is difficult, but I like the flow of the corners,” Mike Conway said.
Buemi contrasted the stadium section with the circuit’s long main straight.
“The straight there is really long and it creates good overtaking possibilities while the stadium is also a great part of the circuit; when you enter it and see all the fans sitting in the grandstands it just feels amazing,” he said.