Toyota Gazoo Racing will conduct a “precautionary test” at Sebring in February ahead of its LMP1 debut at the Florida circuit.
Team technical director Pascal Vasselon told Sportscar365 that the Japanese manufacturer wants to get an early feel for the track in preparation the 1000-mile FIA World Endurance Championship race on March 15.
Sebring last featured on the WEC schedule in 2012, but Toyota didn’t enter on that occasion because it joined the LMP1 field two rounds later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Vasselon previously said it was “not a must” for Toyota to book Sebring because it shares similar data characteristics with Portimao, where the team carried out some of its pre-season endurance simulations.
“We have no experience with this car at Sebring, so we are going there to learn a bit about the track,” Vasselon told Sportscar365.
“It’s very similar [to Portimao] so we would like to confirm that data and we would like to adjust early enough in case we find something special, that we have some time to fix it.
“We will bring some equipment in and then we will leave it [there] to reduce a bit the cost of the test. It’s always tight and a bit expensive to get to Sebring.”
Sportscar365 understands that Toyota flew its pair of LMP1 cars back to its Cologne base from the Six Hours of Shanghai three weeks ago, rather than joining the championship’s sea freight trail to the U.S.
The cars are preparing to embark on a winter testing program that is set to include a run at Motorland Aragon in January, before flying out to Sebring for three available days of testing starting on Feb. 5 and the subsequent race on March 15.
Vasselon said that the length of the Sebring test “is not fixed yet” although it’s understood that it will be an open session, meaning other WEC competitors could join.
Each LMP1 car is allowed 12 days of open private testing and three days of closed-off private testing between the publication of the entry list in early February and the end of the ‘Super Season’ next June.
A two-day open test is also available to WEC teams on the weekend before the race, starting Sat. March 9.