Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon is confident for tomorrow’s FIA WEC season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone despite its pair of brand-new Toyota TS050 Hybrids battling system issues in qualifying.
The pair of factory LMP1 cars qualified fifth and sixth overall, with the No. 6 car of Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway a distant five seconds slower than the pole-winning No. 7 Audi R18 of Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer.
According to Vasselon, both cars were impacted with power issues in the mixed-condition session, which started in the wet before drying out. It’s believed the cars were operating at only 50 percent boost.
“We went into qualifying with settings that had never been tested, which proved to be wrong,” Vasselon told Sportscar365.
“We had to understand what was wrong and then to revert to another kind of philosophy to find the correct working point which was half correct at the end.
“This is not very good, showing that we have not finalized the development of the car.
“Every time we run in generic conditions, it’s fine. But when we’re in changing conditions, and conditions that are not easy to prepare, then we’re on the back foot.”
Vasselon explained a similar issue developed in Friday’s Free Practice 1, also run in damp conditions. He said it was related to the settings for the entire powertrain and not just the lack of boost.
The good news for the Japanese manufacturer is that Sunday’s race is expected to be run in dry conditions, which is not expected to impact the current teething issues with the car.
“Even if today is not nice, and it hurts to have such a bad result, it has no importance for tomorrow,” Vasselon said. “We have to forget about it and prepare for the race.
“We should be in a competitive window according to what we saw yesterday, especially in Free Practice 2.”
Vasselon said they’ve seen a 1.5-second improvement in lap time this year with the TS050 Hybrid, which features a new 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 powerplant and battery hybrid storage.
“What we saw yesterday were very similar to the Prologue,” he said. “Audi and Porsche are more or less replicating last year’s lap times and we have made progress.
“We have made a big step. Is it enough? We will see because last year we were behind.”