WEC: New season starts in Spa for Mike Conway

2nd May 2018

Mike Conway and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing get the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season started this week with the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

An unchanged #7 line-up sees Mike rejoin his teammates from the 2017 campaign as he teams up with Kamui Kobayashi and José María López for their second season together.

Saturday’s opening race in Spa, Belgium, marks the start of a new era for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in endurance, one in which the performance and efficiency of its hybrid electric powertrain will be tested like never before.

Following six years of competition with hybrid competitors from fellow manufacturers in LMP1, this year TOYOTA takes on a field of eight private, non-hybrid cars who benefit from significant performance enhancements, such as 49% more fuel energy per lap, 37.5% more fuel flow and 45kg lower minimum weight. To compete under those conditions requires TOYOTA’s hybrid electric powertrain to again demonstrate the development progress which has seen a 35% reduction in fuel consumption at Le Mans since 2012.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has embraced the challenge and prepared its TS050 HYBRID cars for the new season, with more than 25,000km of winter testing completed prior to Spa, where the clear target will be to win for a third time at the classic Belgian circuit.

TOYOTA has raced six times in WEC at Spa, which is considered a second home event for the team, behind Fuji Speedway, as the track is located only an hour’s drive from the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing technical centre in Cologne, Germany.

The Spa race is traditionally a warm-up to the Le Mans 24 Hours in June as it offers the final chance for teams to compete with their cars before the biggest race of the year. This year the race has the additional honour of also being the first race of a season which includes eight events covering 84 hours of racing which finish at Le Mans 2019.

The 1,000PS TS050 HYBRID will compete in low-downforce Le Mans specification, which sacrifices aerodynamic grip in corners for higher top speed on the long straights of Spa or La Sarthe. Last year, Mike Conway finished second at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, narrowly missing out on the win by just 1.992 seconds to the sister TOYOTA GAZOO Racing #8 car as the team finished 1-2 ahead of rivals Porsche.

Heading to one his favourite circuits, Mike is looking forward to putting the extensive pre-season programme into practice at the first round of the 2018/19 season.

“Spa is one of my favourite circuits, so I can’t wait to get there and get back on track. It should be interesting driving the low-downforce package there and I’m sure it’s going to feel quick through Radillon. I like the event in general in Spa, the fans are proper petrol heads and the atmosphere, especially if we get good weather, is always great. We were very strong there last year and the #7 could have won, but we got unlucky with safety cars. So after a lot of work in pre-season to be prepared, I’m looking forward to kicking off the season now and I hope to do so with a strong result.”

The first track action of the new season takes place on Thursday, with two 90-minute practice sessions in the afternoon. Friday sees final practice followed by qualifying while Saturday’s race begins at 1.30pm local time.

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