Toyota launches updated TS050 Hybrid at WEC Prologue

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Toyota unveiled its updated challenger for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season, the TS050 Hybrid, at Monza on Friday ahead of the two-day collective ‘Prologue’ test.

Following a winless 2015, Toyota made great strides with its car heading into 2016, a season that will forever be remembered for its heartbreaking loss at Le Mans on the final lap of the race.

Toyota expands to a three-car effort at the Spa and Le Mans rounds in 2017, with previous full-timer Stephane Sarrazin moving into the No. 9 car alongside new arrivals Nicolas Lapierre and Yuji Kunimoto. Three-time WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez replaces Sarrazin in the all-season line-up.

The No. 8 TS050 Hybrid will once again be shared between Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, while Lopez teams up with the returning Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 7 car.

Toyota confirmed that the TS050 Hybrid will be racing with an all-new 2.4 liter V6 turbo-charged engine with an 8MJ hybrid system, the maximum permitted in the WEC. The car also features a number of aerodynamic changes following the revision of the technical regulations for the 2017 season.

“Our 2017 TS050 Hybrid represents a significant update; the only item which is not changed is the monocoque,” Toyota WEC technical chief Pascal Vasselon said.

“At several races last year we showed the potential of our car with strong performances. But to achieve our targets we need more, so as well as big aerodynamic changes, we have optimized each area for performance and weight.

“What happened at Le Mans last year was painful so we gave extra attention to quality management. Zero risk doesn’t exist so we operate according to a given level of risk, which this year we have reduced.

“Pre-season testing has gone well in terms of performance and reliability so we feel positive but we also know we face a tough competitor.”

The updated TS050 Hybrid will get its first public run at Monza on Saturday before making its race debut at Silverstone on April 16 upon the start of the new WEC season.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III