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Toyota should not get "overexcited" after front row in WEC Qatar qualifying

Toyota’s technical director David Floury has warned that the Japanese manufacturer should not get “overexcited” after booking a spot on the front row for the World Endurance Championship opener in Qatar.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Nyck de Vries

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

Floury made the remark after new recruit Nyck de Vries finished just 0.146s off pole position in the #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID in Friday afternoon’s Hyperpole qualifying at the Losail International Circuit.

“Tyre usage is really tricky on our side,” he said. “On this track and with the weight we are having here, it is really difficult.

“It will be difficult in the race as well. We should not get overexcited by the quali result. We have to focus on the race.”

Toyota had struggled for pace in the lead-up to the Qatar 1812Km, the opening round of the 2024 WEC season, with tyre graining particularly holding back its two LMH cars in the Prologue test.

It appeared to turn a corner with its race simulation in Thursday practice, but its ultimate pace remained a question mark until de Vries plucked a 1m39.511s flier out of the bag to grab second on the grid behind the polesitting #5 Porsche of Daytona 24 Hours winner Matt Campbell.

“I think we have all been surprised because we didn't expect to do such a laptime,” Floury said. “We had made some bets before the quali session. 

“Expectations were far from this. No one will win that one, for sure.”

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

However, it wasn’t all celebrations for WEC’s powerhouse squad, with Brendon Hartley in the sister #8 car failing to progress beyond Q1 and ending up 11th on the timesheets.

Floury revealed that both GR010 HYBRIDs ran the same set-up and tyre compound in qualifying, but the “knife-edge” nature of the Michelin rubber meant that Hartley was a second off the pace of his Toyota stablemate.

“We were preparing for the race, not so much for pure lap time,” Floury explained.

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"Whether [or not] it is related to the tyres here, we had one car that ended quite well and one that struggled.

“It is really a tiny window, like a knife edge. We have one second between the two cars. It is how the tyres behave.”

Floury said Toyota has made tangible steps in ironing out some of the graining issues it encountered earlier in the week, but still continues to struggle with tyre degradation.

Asked if the track evolution from the start of the week has diminished the tyre graining on the car, Floury said: “We still have it. We have tried to put as much rubber we could this week. We keep doing that during the race I hope.

“We have progressed as the track developed, we made progress as well. As we run we understand better the working point, but it's still a knife edge.”

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