Toyota Gazoo Racing starts the second half of the World Endurance Championship season with a trip across the Atlantic to Austin, Texas for the Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas.
After four events in Europe, the overseas leg of the season begins in the United States this weekend with a race which captures the spirit of the Le Mans 24 Hours by starting in daylight and finishing in darkness.
Toyota has completed three hours of practice at the Circuit of the Americas, making a solid start to the event.
Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, in the #1 TS040 HYBRID, finished fourth and fifth respectively in the two sessions. Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway were fifth and sixth.
First practice began in the middle of the afternoon in bright sunshine, with air temperatures close to 35°C as the WEC field hit the track again for the first time since the Nürburgring race on 30 August.
As well as the usual tasks of fine-tuning set-up and comparing different tyre specifications, Kazuki got his first taste of the Circuit of the Americas, completing eight laps in first practice.
“It’s good to be back at this track, especially in dry conditions after the rain we experienced here last year,” said Anthony. “We made progress on the car set-up today which puts us in a decent position for the rest of the weekend.
“We still have some things to improve in final practice to get the most from the car before qualifying, although obviously the focus is on race pace.”
That 90-minute session was busy for both TS040 HYBRIDs as they completed more laps than their LMP1 rivals, a combined total of 68 overall representing 375km. Sébastien set the fastest time in the #1 while Mike did likewise in the #2.
“It’s always easier to come back to a track that you know so it was nice to drive again here at Austin where I made my Toyota debut,” said Mike.
“During the evening session we made good progress with the tyres and I am pretty happy with the balance. Now we just have to look at the data and see what we can do for the rest of the weekend.”
At 8pm local time second practice began and, for the first time this season since the Le Mans 24 Hours, a WEC session took place in darkness. It was therefore important for all drivers to reacquaint themselves with night driving.
The session ran smoothly, aside from three five-minute penalties (one for the #1 and two for the #2) for exceeding the track limits too frequently. Sébastien set the fastest time for the #1, with Mike quickest for #2.
There is one further practice session ahead of qualifying. The race begins on Saturday at 5pm local time.