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Toyota: Non-Hybrids Now “Very Serious” Competitors

Toyota’s Pascal Vasselon believes LMP1 non-hybrids have turned into “very serious” competitors…

Photo: John Dagys

Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon believes the LMP1 non-hybrids have become “very serious” competitors following better-than-expected performances from the privateers in Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day.

While the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Fernando Alonso topped the time charts, a 3:19.680 lap registered by Mathias Beche in the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson, put the Swiss squad within seven-tenths of Alonso’s pace-setting time.

Improvements also came from the pair of SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AERs in the afternoon session, with Vitaly Petrov reeling off a 3:21.603 lap to be quickest of the Russian prototypes.

Andre Lotterer, meanwhile, slotted the No. 1 Rebellion into fourth on the time charts.

Vasselon admitted he was surprised by Rebellion’s pace, stating they made “large progress” from where the ORECA-built cars were in last month’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Spa.

“What we’re interested in is the progress,” he said. “Obviously, our new competitors are not stabilized, I would say, in their performance development.

“And we saw very large progress today, for the Rebellion but even more for the SMP cars.

“They are coming [on] very strongly and for sure we can’t rest so much.”

When asked whether Rebellion and SMP are now more of a threat for the race, Vasselon indicated they could pose a tougher fight than initially expected.

“Based on today, they are very serious competitors,” he said. “We are already pushing so we will try to find some extra tenths.”

The FIA and ACO have yet to finalize the Equivalence of Technology for the race, although has stated it will provide non-hybrids with enough fuel to prevent lift-and-coasting that teams battled with at Spa.

The Test Day EoT saw non-hybrids with a maximum petrol flow of 108 kg/h, compared to the Toyota’s 80 kg/h.

Final numbers for maximum petrol energy and maximum petrol per stint, as well as the refueling restrictor size, has yet to be released.

Lap Times “Better than Expected”

Vasselon admitted their test day pace was “better than expected” with no issues reported throughout the two sessions, which saw the two cars combine to complete more than 1,700 miles.

“We did a lot of laps, quite high mileage on several sets of tires,” he said. “It was a very good preparation for the race.

“It was a little bit better than expected [pace-wise]. Unlike last year, we didn’t do any qually run. We focused on race preparation.

“In terms of race pace, we’re significantly faster than what we were last year.”

Alonso’s low-3:19 lap time was nine-tenths slower than Toyota’s pace-setting time at the test last year, which Vasselon said holds no comparison due to not going for a qualifying simulation run on Sunday.

“If we want to compare to last year, we probably would have been able to do a [3:]17,” he said.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Paul

    June 3, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Very serious -only because Toyotas are pretty luckless at Le Mans

  2. Paul

    June 3, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    But very interestingly, Laurent in #3 set what I believe is the best first sector ever.

    • Paul

      June 4, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Correctly myself …maybe. They moved the start-finish line down the road, first sector might be shorter now. Anybody in the know?

  3. Yetimania

    June 3, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    The pole I predicted would be a low 2:16, and privateers I guess they have little more than what we saw here. The track is going to evolve a lot so if weather permitting we might see a great show even if the privateers are down on speed compared to Toyotas, they have developed some great chassis that can go faster in the curves thanks to lower weight and in Rebellions case a lighter and enough powerful engine. ACO should give back 110kg/h and let them fight for the pole as well.

  4. Sam M

    June 3, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Why are the non hybrids going so hard on test day!? They will get pegged back immensely in EoT..

    • Sorc

      June 3, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      That’s not how it works. EoT is not BoP. The ACO needs to gather data to set the proper EoT and they can only do that when the privateers go flat out. It’s in their best interest to go as fast as they can to ensure a proper EoT as promised.

      • Sam M

        June 4, 2018 at 6:32 am

        Fair enough. Thanks for that. They can still get pegged back between now and the race weekend can’t they?

        • Andy

          June 4, 2018 at 7:26 am

          They can but the ACO has been fairly consistent in applying the EOT to a target lap time and the EOT adjustment is for ALL non-hybrid so they look at the whole class and so Rebellion/SMP being quick may not cause EOT adjustment as the rest of the class isn’t flying. It’s just confirmation of what we already knew, Rebellion is damn quick most of the time and the SMP cars aren’t far behind.

  5. AudiTT

    June 3, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    3.19 isn’t quicker than expected from the non-hybrids.

    LMP2’s are capable of 3.25/6, so under 3.20 is to be expected.

    The hybrids can go down to 3.14 on a one off qualifying lap. But it’s race pace that is more important. In the race it’s no use doing a 3.14 and then being out of regenerative power for the next lap.

    • Jack

      June 3, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Fastest lmp1 time from last year was a 24. They went 6 seconds faster than last year.

      • AudiTT

        June 4, 2018 at 6:06 pm

        Which was expected.

        Non-hybrids went 6 seconds faster at Spa.

        Last year’s ByKolles could have done a 3.22. I’d expect non-hybrid pole to be 3.16/17.

  6. Paul

    June 3, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    4 cars (all privateers) faster through Porsche Curves than last years Pole. Anybody if they changed the actual track, and not just the run off areas? Tnx in advance for any informed answer.

    • Paul

      June 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      well, the tracks is 3 metres shorter now, than 2017, something has changed, but what does it mean to lap times?

    • TF110

      June 4, 2018 at 1:10 am

      I think it was repaved too. That might add grip. If the cars are this fast already, they are going to be flying in about two weeks.

    • AudiTT

      June 4, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      Non-hybrids produce quite a bit more downforce than the hybrids. Wider front nose/splitter and rear wing. Plus around 40/50kg lighter.

  7. Dave D

    June 4, 2018 at 2:45 am

    and Ginetta 9 sec of the pace. Said at Spa they reminded me of Nissan and Aston Martin efforts. Let us see whether they can do better.

    • TF110

      June 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      First time they’ve really run since the Prologue in April. A 3:27 is not that bad considering the cars have mostly sat for two months.

    • Steven

      June 4, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      Ginetta’s deal was a non-payment by the sponsor. Nissan and Aston Martin both completely missed on their design and they were too embarrassed to continue the program.

    • AudiTT

      June 4, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      Ginetta planned just to qualify their drivers and get data.

      They didn’t even run their low downforce kit.

      • Nate B

        June 6, 2018 at 5:14 pm

        This is probably the biggest reason for being so off-pace. That’s a lot of extra drag.

  8. Paul

    June 6, 2018 at 11:47 am

    “mid-race penalties can be applied to the non-hybrids if they do get too close in terms of performance, at the discretion of the stewards” (from Racecar-engineering).

    If only Toyota is allowed to win say so, dont ever utter words like “equal” and “chance of winning in connection with privateers. ACO/FIA has been debasing language, insulting motorsport fans, made themselves look like idiots and made the planned Toyota victory completely meaningsless.

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