Toyota unbowed despite setbacks

Toyota is refusing to reset its targets for the Le Mans 24 Hours after the major accident that forced it to miss its only scheduled race appearance before the French enduro.

The Japanese manufacturer is still shooting to be the fastest hybrid at Le Mans on June 16/17, according to Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon. He believes it is a realistic target in spite of the shunt at Paul Ricard in early April putting the TS030 Hybrid’s test programme on hold for nearly a month.

“We’ll be in worse shape than we would have been,” he said. “Do we change our target? No. We still aim to be fastest hybrid.” Vasselon said that Toyota had been able to reschedule the two endurance tests lost while a second TS030 was completed in the wake of the Ricard accident. The first took place at MotorLand Aragon in Spain the week after the Spa FIA World Endurance Championship event in which the Toyota had been due to make its debut.

“We will recover the two test sessions lost before Le Mans, but what we won’t recover is the opportunity to race,” he said. “We really wanted to race at Spa.”

Vasselon explained that the third T5030 might not be ready in time for the Le Mans Test Day on June 3, but said there was a chance the car might be given a shakedown in the nine days between the Test Day and the start of practice and qualifying.

Hiroaki Ishiura, who was to have driven Toyota’s second entry along with Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, has withdrawn from Le Mans because of a back complaint. The Japanese, already a winner in Super GT this season, blamed the higher g-forces of driving an LMP1 car.