Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon has confirmed that both Toyota TS050 Hybrids ran outside of the FIA’s Equivalence of Technology rules in the opening day of the Prologue at Paul Ricard, when it set the quickest times of the weekend.
The No. 8 Toyota of Mike Conway ended the two-day FIA World Endurance Championship pre-season test on top of the time sheets with a 1:32.662 lap time set in Hour 7 on Friday afternoon, 1.9 seconds quicker than the sister No. 7 car of Anthony Davidson.
The two Toyotas were more than five seconds clear of the LMP1 non-hybrids, and some four seconds faster than the pace-setting LMP1 lap time from the Paul Ricard test two years ago.
Vasselon explained they went through a “really wide” program that included testing its new-for-2018 cooling system, which required an increase in hybrid power due to lower-than-expected ambient temperatures.
“We had a new cooling system to validate and during winter we knew it was not possible,” he said. “We were hoping a bit higher temperature, so we had been stressing our cooling systems.
“It happens that when you want to stress the hybrid system, you have to ask for a little bit more than what is allowed.
“Then we came back within the usual limits and had a trouble-free run.”
While both cars ran outside of the FIA’s issued EoT for the Prologue, it’s understood to have been permitted in the rules, as cars do not go through scrutineering.
“We are running short on hot weather validation so it was better to do it on both cars,” Vasselon said. “It was planned in case were were not able to trigger the right temperatures.”
The cars completed its cooling system validation on Friday evening and returned to the defined Prologue specification for the remainder of the test, although consistently lapped in the 1:38-1:39 range.
They combined to complete 1,002 laps over the 30-hour test, totaling more than 3,600 miles.
EoT “Extremely Difficult” to Predict
Vasselon said it was difficult to judge the current state of EoT ahead of next month’s season-opener at Spa.
He denied allegations that the Japanese manufacturer deliberately ran the cars out of compliance to push the LMP1 non-hybrids to its limits.
“It’s an extremely difficult topic because you have to take into account a huge list of parameters,” Vasselon said of the EoT.
“We have very competent people in the [ACO/FIA] office looking at it, nearly day and night. I know they stayed very late yesterday and [came back] early today. They have all of the data.
“With what has happened over these two days, they have all the data to make a conclusion. We fully trust what will happen.”