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Vasselon: Size of Gap Between Toyotas Was “Unusual”

Toyota technical boss says “better setup anticipation” at play in No. 8 car’s dominant win…

Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s technical director described the large gap between the two Toyota GR010 Hybrids at the 6 Hours of Fuji as “unusual” considering both cars had clean races.

The No. 8 crew of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa took a dominant victory in Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round, finishing a minute ahead of their teammates Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway in the No. 7 car.

That was despite both Toyotas reaching the checkered flag with no excess trips to the garage or notable off-track moments.

Reflecting on how the No. 8 established such a large gap, Vasselon said: “Here we are a bit worried, because it’s absolutely unusual to have such a big gap between the two cars.

“We need to have a look at it. Car No. 7 had a balance problem. We have been using a tire which we have tested, but in different conditions. It was easy to make mistakes.

“There has been a better setup anticipation on car No. 8.

“It’s not usual that we had such a gap between the two cars. It can be explained by the fact that the race has happened in conditions that are very different to testing.

“Then, you had to extrapolate the test result and here, we have had a gap.”

Hartley thought that it was “surprising” how the No. 8 car managed to clear off into the distance to win the penultimate round of the WEC season.

The New Zealander inherited the No. 8 Toyota from Buemi with a buffer of around 6.5 seconds but that swelled to just over half a minute during the next stints against Lopez.

Hirakawa then extended the advantage by another half-minute during his double stint against Mike Conway to end up 68 seconds clear at the checkered flag.

According to Vasselon, the greatest gains for the No. 8 Toyota occurred during the second part of each driver’s double stint.

“We went in a different direction on car setup to car No. 7,” said Hartley.

“We saw that track temperature was higher than the rest of the weekend, so we went in a different direction and clearly it worked.

“I drove in the hottest part and the advantage on the other car was kind of surprising.

“Everything was flowing, but I was a bit surprised with the gap I was able to build. It was one of those races where everything just worked out.

“The three of us have been really on it with the engineers, figuring out brake settings, setups. As a crew, we were very strong today and couldn’t have done much better.

“There is big competition in the future and we have to keep performing like that to keep winning these races.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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