Anthony Davidson says this weekend’s Six Hours of Nürburgring will be a case of “damage limitation” for Toyota Gazoo Racing, as the Japanese manufacturer faces Porsche with its new high-downforce aero kit for the first time this season.
The 2014 World Champion has slipped to second in title race after losing ground to the 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Porsche squad due to a front motor generator unit failure in the double points-paying race.
With two victories at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps already under his belt, Davidson still believes the World Championship is in reach for he and co-drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.
“I looked immediately at the points and we’re behind by 17,” Davidson told Sportscar365.
“It would be great to win another championship, because in my mind putting together a whole championship despite not winning Le Mans is a bigger achievement, personally, than just winning one race.
“No matter how big that one race is, for personal pride and for personal sense of achievement, that’s higher [when you] win the whole championship.”
Porsche elected to run its low-downforce Le Mans aero kit at Silverstone and Spa, giving Toyota an advantage at the opening two rounds, but with the German manufacturer debuting its high-downforce kit this weekend, Davidson expects the competition to be a lot tougher.
“We’re under no illusions of the speed of the Porsche and how competitive they’ll be with their new update kit on a track where they lapped us last year,” he said.
“If we can be with them, then I think it bodes quite well for the rest of the year.
“I think they could run quite high in terms of downforce anyway on their Le Mans package, and we could see them trimmed down very low already from first practice in Le Mans, so it proves that their Le Mans kit had a very wide window.
“They could go to almost the levels that we could with our high-downforce kit.”
Davidson expects the Porsche to have the edge at the high-downforce Nürburgring circuit, and sees this weekend as a case of damage limitation for the championship.
“At this track, you have to run the highest downforce possible, so maybe they can go a bit higher than we can, and that’s where you might see them look after the tires better or go better through traffic,” he explained.
“If we can’t quite match them here, I’m not going to be too down about it. If we can come away from this race not getting lapped, it means we should still be able to fight for victories later in the championship.
“We even won Fuji last year after such a terrible race here. We’ll probably be able to match them around here, but it will be one of the hardest circuits, for sure, compared to the rest of the year.
“The closer we can be to them here, perhaps the further in front we can be for the rest of the year.
“This should be our worst one, so let’s get this out of the way here. It might be a bit of damage limitation, but we’re going for the victory.”
In terms of the standings, Davidson admits making up the 17-point deficit to Porsche will be difficult, but not impossible if the Toyota avoids the reliability issues it faced at Le Mans.
“It’s going to be hard, with only four cars in the championship,” he said. “Even if we win and they’re second, or we win and they’re fourth, you’re only going to be chipping away at it.
“Hopefully we can do that, and hopefully, there will be some reliability issues come into play to help us out a bit through the rest of the year.
“If we have to do it through hard work and determination, then we’re not going to give up and we’ll be prepared for it.
“The main thing is to have a clean weekend, every weekend. That’s all that we can do.”