Toyota Outperforms Porsche in Early Le Mans Testing
The team comes back with high expectations for the 24 hour race.
After a gut-wrenching loss at last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota Gazoo Racing is looking to trump Porsche at this year's event with its fleet of TS050 Hybrids. The team has proven to perform well over the course of this WEC season, and with the big race coming on June 17th and 18th, Toyota seeks to edge out its German competitors where it counts.
This weekend's testing at the Circuit de la Sarthe played out in Toyota's favor, with the #7 TS050 Hybrid clocking an LMP1-leading time of 3 minutes and 18.132 seconds. That's a 3.38-second lead over the fastest Porsche 919 Hybrid, a team which consisted of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, and Brendon Hartley. The Porsche crew completed its quickest lap behind three of the Toyota TS050 Hybrid entries, placing them in fourth position during testing.
Toyota racer Mike Conway was pleased with his team's outing during the event, though he said he believes that Porsche could come back stronger at the 24 hour race:
"We began the test with quite a good car and the lap times were already strong early in the day, considering how the track felt. [But] the battle has only just started; there’s a lot of work to do."
Following Audi's exit last year, Toyota and Porsche remain the only competitors in the LMP1 class. With that being said, there's no lack of rivalry between the two, making for an especially entertaining race come the 17th of this month. Toyota team member Anthony Davidson told Autocar earlier this year that "Porsche has been the team to beat for two seasons", assuring that the Japanese team knows its place in this contest for the podium.