After a strong showing at Le Mans and only barely missing on its first win, Toyota Gazoo Racing was faced with a harsh reality in Sunday’s Six Hours of Nürburging, were it struggled to keep up with Audi and the eventual-winning Porsche.
A switch to its new high-downforce aero package, coupled with a different tire strategy and engine issues for the No. 6 car in the race, all played a role in the Japanese manufacturer’s poor performance, according to technical director Pascal Vasselon.
“We have seen some type of tire behavior that is usually only seen in Formula One, but which are a first in WEC,” Vasselon said post-race. “The tires, which in some circumstances, just stopped working.
“It cost us at least two bad stints. Nevertheless, even when all the conditions came together we were still six-tenths off. We were not in the race.”
Vasselon wouldn’t go into any further detail on the issue and referred to Michelin, although it’s believed Toyota opted for the harder compound of the soft tires offered this weekend.
He confirmed this remaining lack of performance could be attributed to its third high downforce package not being at the same level of the competition.
“Our aero package is not at the level of Audi’s and Porsche’s,” he said. “Together with Silverstone, this track requires the highest level of downforce, which we still don’t have.
“Logically, if our first feeling is true that we have been [in] trouble with the aero package, it should get better for the other races. This was the worst track for us.”
The biggest concern, however, still remains with the powerplant, which experienced for the No. 6 car of Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayshi experienced the same engine issue that plagued the sister car at Le Mans.
“On the No. 6 car, we experienced the same issue we had at Le Mans on the No. 5 car, but it just came earlier this time,” Vasselon said.
“In fact we have not had the possibility to validate anything else; there is clearly the problem of repeatability in production.
“We were left with no solution. It was not possible to build something new and hope that it would last the race. We were locked with the solution we had at Le Mans.”
Vasselon, however, remains slightly optimistic for the remainder of the season, as a solution should be in place ahead of the next round in Mexico City in September.
“It was really this race that was problematic, because we had no possibility to validate something else,” he said. “We have a test session planned for August where we will have time for that.
“We have the design ready, but we need track validation before we implement it in a race.”