WEC testing has come to a close at Circuit Paul Ricard after 30 hours of running and over 53,000 kilometres completed between the thirty-five entrants.
Conducted in perfect conditions as the teams as they make final preparations before the first round at Spa-Francorchamps on May 5, the pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 HYBRID entries headed the way as they conducted the most laps by a team.
As planned, the number 8 TS050 HYBRID ran for the daytime sessions on Friday and Saturday in a high-downforce configuration as used to win last season’s 6 Hours of Bahrain and completed 163 laps of set-up and tyre evaluations. It total the two cars completed 1,002 laps, a total distance of 5,802km.
The team tested many aspects of its upgraded design and, although Mike Conway set an overall best of 1m32.662 in the number 8 car, it was largely unrepresentative due to Toyota running unrestricted when the time was set.
The main focus of that car was to test the reliability of components, as well as optimising procedures in case of unexpected issues. To that end, the team simulated technical problems to allow mechanics, engineers and drivers to practice parts changes and procedures for bringing the car back to the pits.
Behind the Japanese team, the relative performance to the non-hybrid LMP1 cars was closer than initially thought given the early times set by Toyota were recorded whilst both TS050 Hybrids were running unrestricted fuel-flow while testing a new cooling system.
The performance between LMP1 hybrid and non-hybrid prototypes will be adjusted via an Equivalence of Technology (EoT) process this season. With Toyota effectively running unabated during the early part of testing, it lead some to believe that the 4.3 second gap back to the number 11 SMP Racing BR1 wasn’t indicative of the true performance of the non-hybrid cars.
With the first round a little over a month away in Spa-Francorchamps on May 5, there have potentially been more questions raised than answers.
Image: TOYOTA GAZOO RACING