Toyota to run in Le Mans aero spec for Spa WEC round

Toyota will run its TS050 HYBRIDs in Le Mans 24 Hours aerodynamic configuration at the World Endurance Championship superseason opener at Spa next month

That represents a change in strategy from last season when the Japanese manufacturer fielded both its regular WEC cars in high-downforce configuration and only its third TS050, which was entered for Spa and Le Mans, in low-drag trim.

Toyota Motorsport technical director Pascal Vasselon explained that evidence from the 2017 Spa WEC round suggested that the low-downforce TS050 was the quicker option for the Belgian event on May 5.

"Last year we had two high-downforce cars and one low-downforce car, and the low-downforce car made the fastest lap time [of the weekend]," he said.

"It is good preparation for Le Mans for the drivers to get used to low downforce and to finalise the validation of the bodywork."

Stephane Sarrazin posted a 1m53.658s in qualifying in the Le Mans-trim TS050 at Spa last May, though the car only ended up third on the aggregate times.

The best lap by the high-downforce Toyota was a 1m53.911s from Mike Conway, who took second on the grid together with Kamui Kobayashi.

The limited 2018 aero developments on the TS050, which was introduced in 2016, have so far focused on the low-downforce car in advance of the Le Mans enduro in June.

Testing plans

Toyota has both versions of the TS050 present at Paul Ricard for this week's official pre-season WEC 'prologue' test.

Toyota will run its Le Mans-spec car through Friday/Saturday night, while the high-downforce car, which remains in the aero configuration in which it finished last year's WEC, will take part in the daytime sessions.

Conway and Sebastien Buemi have been nominated to test the high-downforce TS050, while all five Toyota drivers present are listed in the Le Mans car.

Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi are all absent courtesy of clashes with their Formula 1 and Super GT programmes.

Test and reserve driver Anthony Davidson and Toyota ambassador Alex Wurz are on the driving roster for the prologue.

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