Toyota: New WEC handicaps guarantee LMP1 privateer race wins

Toyota believes its privateer rivals will win races in the 2019/20 World Endurance Championship as a result of the latest rule changes and the introduction of success handicaps

Toyota: New WEC handicaps guarantee LMP1 privateer race wins

Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon made the claim after the Rebellion Racing and works Ginetta squads ran his cars close in the official pre-season test at Barcelona this week.

"Obviously they are in the window to win races and, with success handicaps, they will win races for sure," said Vasselon.

"Ginetta will have a learning curve, but Rebellion looks ready to fight at the highest level."

Vasselon said that he was encouraged by the pace of the Ginetta G60-LT-P1, which is returning to the championship with AER power under the banner of the marque's in-house Team LNT squad.

The best of the British cars ended up just under six tenths behind the fastest of the Toyotas over the two-day test on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Rebellion is not a surprise, because we were expecting them to be very close," he explained.

"But what Ginetta has achieved is remarkable and is good news for the championship."

Vasselon made it clear that the latest 14kg weight penalty for the Toyota TS050 HYBRIDs had helped close up up the LMP1 field at Barcelona.

"You can't escape physics — 14kg is four tenths," he said

"It is part of what explains how close we are now."

The increase in minimum weight for the Toyotas, which means they are now running 40kg heavier than at the start of the 2018/19 superseason, is part of a package of measures designed to finally get the non-hybrid privateer machinery on a par with the only factory remaining in LMP1.

The length of stints between refuelling has been equalised for all races and the advantage Toyota previously enjoyed in the pits removed entirely.

The system of success handicaps was voted through by the teams on the eve of the Barcelona running and will slow cars with a series of parameters and not just weight.

The handicaps will be awarded on the basis of the points gaps between the cars in the championship standings.

The system will now be finalised ahead of the Silverstone series opener in September in the wake of the vote in its favour.

ORECA boss Hughes de Chaunac, whose organisation has developed the Rebellion-Gibson R-13 and was running the cars at Barcelona, warned that it is "important to be wary" of the privateers' chances.

"Anything that closes the gap between the hybrids and the hybrids is well received," he said.

"We have to be at the right level as a team, because we know that Toyota is at such a high level."

Jose Maria Lopez ended up fastest in the 'prologue' test on 1m29.141s in the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID.

That compared with the 1m29.187s best from the #8 car with Kazuki Nakajima driving and a 1m29.408s from Rebellion driver Gustavo Menezes.

Formula 2 frontrunner Luca Ghiotto set the fastest Ginetta time on 1m29.697s.

The fastest LMP1 times were all set on Wednesday afternoon.

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