Le Mans 24 Hours: Test DayTOYOTA GAZOO Racing on track at Le Mans test


TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s preparations stepped up a gear during the official test day which saw a productive start to the team’s challenge for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the fourth round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing on track at Le Mans test

The World Champions, with five Le Mans victories from the last six editions, hit the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time this year as part of a 23-strong Hypercar grid alongside Alpine, BMW, Cadillac, Ferrari, Isotta Fraschini, Lamborghini, Peugeot and Porsche, the largest top-class Le Mans entry of the 21st century.

José María López, competing in place of the injured Mike Conway, drove his first laps of the season in the #7 GR010 HYBRID. Test driver Ritomo Miyata enhanced his experience by completing his first Hypercar laps at La Sarthe. All six race drivers completed the mandatory ten laps – five timed – to be eligible to race next week.

Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa in the #8 GR010 HYBRID set a best lap of 3mins 27.615secs to end the day in third position. The #7 GR010 HYBRID of José, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries was ninth quickest overall. More importantly, the cars ran trouble-free and registered a combined total of 144 laps – 1962km – to contribute significantly to race week preparations.

The 13.626km Circuit de la Sarthe consists partly of public roads and today’s two three-hour sessions are the only opportunity for WEC competitors to test prior to race week. Kamui and Sébastien turned the first laps in 2024 for the GR010 HYBRIDs at the track when the morning session began on a sunny, mild day.

Around 10 minutes in, Ritomo took the wheel of the #8 GR010 HYBRID for his first Le Mans experience during a short five-lap stint before switching his focus to LMP2, in which he competes with COOL Racing.

Focus in the morning session was on mechanical set-up comparisons. A session heavily disrupted by red flags and a long safety car period ended with the #7 GR010 HYBRID fastest, after Kamui benefited from a clear track ahead following an early red flag. Sébastien’s lap put the #8 GR010 HYBRID in sixth.

In the afternoon, both cars continued set-up analysis whilst also testing the two compounds of Michelin tyre – medium and soft – which are available for the event, comparing performance and degradation. Brendon’s early lap was the quickest of the day for the #8 and earned third while Kamui put the #7 in 10th place in the session.

Drivers and engineers will spend the next days optimising set-ups prior to practice on Wednesday afternoon. A one-hour qualifying on Wednesday evening sees the fastest eight cars progress to Thursday’s Hyperpole, which finalises the starting grid. The race begins on Saturday 15 June at 4pm CEST.

Away from the on-track action, Tuesday sees the opening of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s fan activities in the Hydrogen Village, where the GR H2 Racing Concept joins the latest innovations towards a hydrogen society, and the Manufacturers Village, which hosts a variety of motorsport vehicles and a merchandise store.

Throughout the event, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing offers fans from around the world the opportunity to delve deeper into its Le Mans challenge, including information about the team and live onboard cameras from the two GR010 HYBRIDs, via a dedicated website, https://toyotagazooracing.com/wec/special/2024/24h-lemans/.

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car #7):

“I enjoyed being back here at Le Mans and driving on this track again. It’s always good to be back. We were just working on finding the right balance for the car. It was not easy to get a good set-up, especially as the track conditions were changing throughout the day. We will summarise what we need to do to find more speed in our car and work hard to get better for next week.”

José Mará López (Driver, car #7):

“The first day of testing is done and I was really happy to be back in the car. I have to say it felt like I never left; I felt at home because I know everyone and I know the car. We have a lot of data to analyse and now the most important days are coming up when we look at all the data from the test. It was a was a positive start and I’m really happy with the work done by the team.”

Nyck de Vries (Driver, car #7):

“It was cool to do my first Hypercar laps at Le Mans. I needed a few laps to find my rhythm, and to find my references here. Obviously on such a day with limited time available, three drivers per car, and a long lap, you don’t get a lot of time in the car. But I am satisfied with the running we were able to do. The competition looks close in Hypercar but we will find out for sure next week. Let’s see what comes.”

Sébastien Buemi (Driver, car #8):

“Obviously its’s always a great pleasure to be back at Le Mans. We had good weather, which may not be the case all through race week, and I was able to do quite a few laps. I started the day and finished it, so I saw a big track improvement but the car feels quite good and I am quite happy with how the day went. We have time to look at the data and see what we can improve for Wednesday.”

Brendon Hartley (Driver, car #8):

“It’s really nice to be back at Le Mans. Every year when I come back here it is a real pleasure; it feels like we are back at home. It was a smooth day with no real drama and we got through the majority of the run plan. There were a few red flags and safety cars but that’s the same for everyone. It looks promising for us at this stage. We never know what everyone is doing. but it’s been a positive start.”

Ryo Hirakawa (Driver, car #8):

“We tested a lot of different options and it has been a useful day. We ran through our programme and now we will focus over the next few days on investigating the data and improving the set-up for race week. So far everything looks reasonable but we still need to improve a bit to catch up to our competitors. I am sure we can improve further for race week.”

Ritomo Miyata (Test Driver):

“It was an amazing feeling to drive the GR010 HYBRID at Le Mans for the first time. These were also my first laps here, so it was a very special moment for me. I really enjoyed it. I only did a few laps in the morning before switching to LMP2 so it’s been a busy day but it’s a great experience and I have learned a lot. I want to say a big thank you to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for giving me this opportunity.”

Le Mans 24 Hours – Free Practice 1 Test Day

1st #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 3min 28.467secs 35 laps
2nd #6 Porsche Penske
(Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor/Cameron) +0.738secs 33 laps
3rd #20 BMW M Team WRT
(Van der Linde/Frijns/Rast/Yelloly/Krohn) +0.966secs 35 laps
4th #63 Lamborghini Iron Lynx
(Bortolotti/Kvyat/Mortara/Caldarelli/Pepper) +1.172secs 35 laps
5th #83 AF Corse (Kubica/Shwartzman/Ye) +1.265secs 31 laps
6th #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1.365secs 36 laps

Le Mans 24 Hours – Free Practice 2 Test Day

1st #6 Porsche Penske (Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor/Cameron) 3min 26.907secs 36 laps
2nd #4 Porsche Penske (Jaminet/Nasr/Tandy/Cameron) +0.235secs 33 laps
3rd #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +0.708secs 38 laps
4th #5 Porsche Penske
(Campbell/Christensen/Makowiecki/Cameron) +0.866secs 34 laps
5th #50 Ferrari AF Corse
(Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen) +1.107secs 37 laps
6th #20 BMW M Team WRT
(Van der Linde/Frijns/Rast/Yelloly/Krohn) +1.165secs 40 laps
10th #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1.920secs 35 laps