There’s a distinctly British flavour to the Toyota Racing (Gazoo) team that starts the defence of its World Endurance Championship title at Silverstone this weekend.
British drivers Mike Conway and Anthony Davidson hope to repeat last year’s 1-2 finish (pictured below) at their home event from April 10 to 12. The success in 2014 paved the way for a superb year, which saw Toyota win five of eight races, the manufacturers’ title and the driver’s title for Anthony and his teammate Sébastien Buemi.
Mike Conway joined Toyota midway through the season, and races this year alongside Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin in the number 2 car, while Kazuki Nakajima joins Antony and Sébastien in car number 1.
But while Mike and Antony are the British contingent behind the wheel of the 1000bhp TS040 Hybrid, they’re not the only British members of the team. In this video, we introduce you to a few more Union Flag wavers working tirelessly to defend Toyota’s title.
Gerard Winstanley works at Toyota Racing (Gazoo)’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany. As Composites Manager, Gerard is responsible for the fabrication of pretty much everything visible on the TS040 Hybrid, largely from carbon composite.
As well as that, he looks after the construction of materials for the half-scale car models that undergo wind testing. Such is the level of competition in the WEC, every aerodynamic advantage possible is eked out by the engineers in Germany before the drivers even see the car.
The Aero Man
Ralph Hardman knows the importance of making the car as slippery as possible. He’s Deputy Head of Aerodynamics, tasked not just with balancing drag and downforce, but also ensuring that the car is engineered with the feel a driver needs to be able to push with confidence.
“It’s about sensitivity,” he says. “How do you make the driver feel safe in braking, in cornering? The human aspect is very important, as well as the science.”
The Chassis Creator
Senior Design Engineer Paresh Patel works in the chassis design office. With several years’ experience working in sports cars, he’s ready for the challenge of 2015. “Last year, winning the world championship was absolutely thrilling,” he says. “I was over the moon.”
“I feel we’re in a great position.” – Mike Conway
That’s a feeling that Mike Conway (above), in his first full season with the Toyota TS040 Hybrid, is very excited about recreating. “With the four-wheel drive system, traction is just instant,” he says. “Big wide tyres, lots of downforce; you can really hit the throttle hard and it just drives.
“I feel we’re in a great position.”
The Six Hours of Silverstone is the first race of the 2015 season. After that, the WEC heads to Spa in Belgium before the flagship race, the 23 Hours of Le Mans, in June. The rest of the season sees the teams head to Germany, the USA, Japan and China before the final race in Bahrain in November.