Toyota Gazoo Racing Faces Qualifying Challenges at 6 Hours of Spa

Toyota Gazoo Racing's GR010 HYBRID cars qualified 7th and 15th for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, citing a lack of top speed as a major challenge. Ferrari AF Corse's No. 50 499P was disqualified from qualifying due to being underweight, handing pole position to Porsche Penske Motorsport's No. 5 963.

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Nitish Verma
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Toyota Gazoo Racing Faces Qualifying Challenges at 6 Hours of Spa

Toyota Gazoo Racing Faces Qualifying Challenges at 6 Hours of Spa

Toyota Gazoo Racing is gearing up for a challenging 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, the third round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The team's two GR010 HYBRID cars qualified 7th and 15th in a highly competitive Hypercar field.

The No. 8 Toyota crew of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa secured 7th on the grid with a time of 2min 04.511secs. Meanwhile, the No. 7 car driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and Nyck de Vries could only manage 15th, clocking 2min 03.738secs.

Toyota's technical director, David Floury, expressed concerns about the team's "raceability" ahead of the 6-hour endurance race, citing a lack of top speed as a major challenge. "The 'raceability' is poor," Floury admitted. "We didn't run [the soft tire in practice] because we were focused on race preparation. It was moving quite a lot, it was not easy."

The team's top speed in qualifying was 312.3 km/h, compared to the fastest time of 315.9 km/h set by the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R. Kamui Kobayashi, who made mistakes on his best lap and failed to escape the opening segment in qualifying, acknowledged the performance deficit. "I think we have not enough pace... Unfortunately, I think the group is getting closer to the top group," he said.

Despite the challenges, Toyota remains determined to fight at the front in Saturday's race. Brendon Hartley found confidence in the car's performance on medium tires, which are expected to be better suited to the high-degradation Spa circuit. "Porsche and Ferrari look quick, especially Ferrari... Everyone will have high tire degradation, so there will be a lot of management," Hartley noted.

In a dramatic turn of events,Ferrari AF Corse's No. 50 499P, which initially qualified on pole, was disqualified from the qualifying and Hyperpole sessions after being found underweight in post-qualifying technical checks. As a result, Porsche Penske Motorsport's No. 5 963 inherited pole position, marking Penske's 100th pole in sports car racing.

Toyota Gazoo Racing, the defending WEC champions, face an uphill battle at Spa-Francorchamps as they aim to close the gap to their rivals. With smart strategy, faultless driving, and quick pit work, the team hopes to overcome the performance deficit and secure valuable championship points in the highly competitive Hypercar class.