Seven-time World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier said that he “learned a lot” during his first time driving the Toyota GR010 Hybrid at the FIA World Endurance Championship rookie test.
Ogier, who had already sampled the car in Toyota’s simulator, completed 84 laps during five hours of available running at Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday.
The Frenchman carried out three short stints totaling 32 laps during the morning run – when he set his fastest lap time of 1:50.647 – followed by four stints in the afternoon amounting to 52 laps.
His longest single stint of 19 laps came during the three-hour session after lunch.
Reflecting on his first day in a sports prototype cockpit, Ogier said that he enjoyed the experience and learned a significant amount as he adapted to a car that is markedly different from the rally machinery that he is most famous for driving.
“My day was very interesting and fun,” Ogier told Sportscar365.
“In life you are always looking for new experiences. There was not much comparison with rally. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot already.
“Obviously there is still a lot to learn, but it’s a starting point. I didn’t put so much pressure on myself today about expecting being fast straight away. I have to be realistic. It was my first time ever in a Hypercar.
“It was interesting. The team helped me a lot between the runs to try and find the direction. Some things I expected, some not.”
Ogier identified the braking and the traction control as the most challenging aspects of handling Toyota’s championship-winning four-wheel-drive hybrid LMH car.
“The braking, for example, I expected even more downforce and more attack on brakes,” he explained.
“I don’t have many experiences with this kind of car but when I ran in DTM and tested in F1 once, I expected something closer to that in terms of brake attack.
“Actually you have to be… It’s pretty sensitive and it’s pretty easy to lock the wheel in this car. That’s one of the things I discovered today.
“Working on the traction control, which is something you can adjust a bit – it was a bit stronger than I expected. Somehow it makes the car a little easier to drive but not easy to be fast with.
“There were many things I had to discover but that would be the two areas where I struggled the most.”
Ogier’s quickest lap time fell 1.950 seconds short of the rookie test pace set by Nicolas Lapierre in an Alpine A480 Gibson, however he indicated that he was never aiming to be near the top of the times in what was a purely exploratory outing.
His best effort came on used Michelin tires. Ogier was also given fresh tires for part of the test, although he admitted that a setup change initiated by his supporting co-driver Sebastien Buemi “disturbed” his rhythm on what could have been a faster run.
“Obviously I was still a bit behind the reference of the team, but that’s not a surprise,” he said.
“The other way around would have been a worry for them. So it’s just part of the learning.
“I didn’t put too much pressure on myself. We will need to analyze a bit more now with the runs we did with new or old tires. That’s where you can really see where you are compared to them. Generally, there is still some room for improvement.”
Ogier was relieved to have no awkward moments during the test, which involved 17 other cars from the other WEC categories including LMP2 and GTE.
“I was pretty safe with the traffic and didn’t come too close to any other cars and tried not to disturb anybody,” he recalled.
“I’m happy that I didn’t make any major mistakes, no spins, nothing. It’s better like this.
“With these cars, any slide is very costly in terms of time. In rally as well we tend to drive more and more clean. We know it’s the fastest way.
“I already had a couple of slides for sure. It’s less fun than in a rally car to slide at that point!”