Photo : D.R. - Toyota Racing
Kazuki Nakajima returns to the driver line-up for the #7 TS030 HYBRID, joining Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre.
After helping the team to its first podium finish at Silverstone, Kazuki took time out from WEC duties to concentrate on his Super GT programme in Japan.
In that time his team-mates scored TOYOTA Racing’s first win, in Sao Paulo in the team’s third race. The team was in a strong position to repeat that in Bahrain but a technical issue cost several minutes before an accident ended its race.
Weather conditions are expected to be significantly cooler in Japan than the 37°C race day heat experienced in Bahrain.
The 4.563km Fuji Speedway track has a rich history of endurance racing, having previously hosted the World Sportscar Championship from 1982 to 1988, as well as national sportscar events.
The TS030 HYBRID follows in its illustrious predecessors in racing at Fuji Speedway; the TS010 won an All Japan Sportscar Championship race there in 1992 while the TS020 finished second in the 1999 Le Mans Fuji 1,000km.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “Our home race is a very special occasion for TOYOTA Racing and the team is extremely motivated to deliver a good result, especially after the big disappointment of Bahrain. We are a hybrid team in many respects and, even though our team base is at TMG in Cologne, our TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing was developed very close to Fuji Speedway, at Higashi-Fuji Technical Center. So this is a homecoming for our hybrid powertrain and many of our engineers. As always, we face a very tough competitor so every team member needs to focus on doing the very best job possible in order to succeed. To stand on the top step of the podium in Japan is a big dream for us, so everyone is fired up for this weekend.”
Alex Wurz: “It feels very cool to go to Japan as a TOYOTA driver. It puts a bit of extra pressure on as well and that is good for us. Fuji Speedway is an iconic track in sportscar history and it also a difficult one. You have an extremely long straight, some fast corners in the middle then the last sector is very technical and tricky. It is actually one of the most difficult tracks in my opinion to get the set-up right. I am looking forward to racing in Japan again; the Japanese fans are very special and very enthusiastic. I hope they still remember the great days of sportscar racing and come back to see these extremely good, sexy-looking race cars because the show will definitely be very good.”
Nicolas Lapierre: “I’ve only been to Japan once before, to race at Okoyama in 2009, so I am looking forward to this week. I have never driven at Fuji Speedway before but I visited Cologne last week and drove the track on the TMG simulator, and I have also watched a lot of onboard camera footage. It seems a very technical track with a massive straight so it will be interesting to see how our car reacts there. It’s a great feeling and a real privilege to go to the Six Hours of Mount Fuji as a TOYOTA Racing driver. Of course this is also an extra pressure because we really want to do well at our home race, but this is a positive pressure.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “I am really excited to be driving the TS030 HYBRID again; it seems like a long time since our podium at Silverstone! It’s been great to see the progress made by the team since then, particularly with the win in Sao Paulo. I would love to have been there for such a special moment so I am really motivated to create another great result this weekend. Fuji Speedway is one of my favourite tracks and I know it really well. Actually I raced there already twice this season in Super GT, although it will be a different challenge in an LMP1 car. I can’t wait to drive this car at Fuji Speedway in front of TOYOTA’s home fans.”
Toyota Racing press release.