Following a disappointing 24 Hours of Le Mans and start to its FIA World Endurance Championship title defense, Toyota Gazoo Racing is hoping to turn its season around beginning with this month’s Six Hours of Nürburgring.
The Cologne-based factory squad hosted a two-day test last week at the German circuit, which according to Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon, proved to be productive ahead of the start of the second half of the season.
“It’s always positive to have a testing session with strong support,” Vasselon told Endurance-Info. “We’re on a transition program.
“In addition, [the test] allowed us to investigate some things for 2016, including the suspension and brakes. We’re working on building towards 2016.”
Toyota is coming off sixth and eighth place finishes at Le Mans, marking the first non-podium finish for the Japanese manufacturer since the team’s race debut in 2012.
“There was not the slightest error,” Vasselon said of the race. “You can’t say we had a bad Le Mans. We [improved] by three seconds [per lap].
“In the last three editions, we ran a total of six cars and five have not experienced any problems.”
Vasselon, though, admits that measures have to be taken to bring Toyota back into competitive form against the German juggernauts from Audi and Porsche.
“Everyone is strong [despite] given the fact that 2015 has not been good in terms of the final result,” he said.
“There was a need for a reaction and we will have a supplementary budget for the coming season, even if it won’t be at the level of others.”
The changes for 2016 include a new power train and a likely switch to a battery based hybrid system, which has been under development by Toyota for the last two years.
“The main point to be addressed is the power train,” Vassleon said. “The whole team is working hard on this subject in Japan. There is an [evaluation] of the hybrid system and engine.
“We re in video conferences every two days with Japan. The technical choices are already frozen, with integration details being adjusted.
“We will have a [new] engine developed specifically for the car, with the first running scheduled in January.”
Vasselon would not confirm the configuration of the new engine, but all indications are pointing towards a switch from its 3.7-liter normally aspirated V8 to a small displacement turbo.
Toyota sits third in the Manufacturers World Championship heading into the German round, 69 points behind championship leader Porsche, which is coming off a historic 1-2 finish at Le Mans.