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Toyota buoyed by Alonso, focus on “unconventional situations”

Toyota is preparing for a tough challenge against its privateer LMP1 rivals in the 2018-19 WEC season but is boosted by the arrival of Fernando Alonso

Toyota Gazoo Racing is gearing up for the World Endurance Championship Prologue at Paul Ricard by accepting a tough challenge against its privateer LMP1 rivals due to the 2018-19 regulations but feels buoyed by the arrival of Fernando Alonso plus winter developments.

For the new ‘super-season’ Toyota will be restricted to using 124.9MJ (plus 8MJ of hybrid electric energy) per lap of Le Mans while its private LMP1 rivals who do not use hybrids can use 210.9MJ per lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe.

While fuel flow rules have also been tightened for Toyota, plus running 45kg heavier than its LMP1 rivals, the sole manufacturer entry into the premier class of WEC competition is eager to test itself against the new-look field starting this weekend at the Prologue at Paul Ricard.

Toyota welcomes two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso into its driver crew in the #8 TS050 Hybrid alongside Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, but the Spaniard will be absent from the Prologue due to his F1 commitments in Bahrain with McLaren, with team director Rob Leupen seeing the addition of Alonso as a key boost to the squad.

“To have two Le Mans in one season is something really special and we hope that by bringing Fernando to the WEC, we are contributing to the growth of the championship,” Leupen said. “Additionally, the regulations this year have set us a challenge like no other.

“We have demonstrated since 2012 that our hybrid electric powertrain delivers real performance and efficiency benefits; now we must be more efficient than ever to beat our LMP1 rivals, who have significantly more energy, more fuel flow and less weight.

“We thrive on challenges like this as they push us to make ever-better cars. But make no mistake, we hate to lose so our target could not be clearer; victory at Le Mans and the WEC title."

Alonso has echoed his new team’s sentiment ahead of his WEC debut and despite missing the Prologue test he’s confident of being ready for his maiden WEC race in Spa next month.

"To race on the best circuits in the world like Le Mans, and with one of the best teams like Toyota, is a privilege and a dream come true for me,” Alonso said. “The car is amazing; something very special. The technology that the LMP1 hybrid cars have was unthinkable a few years ago.

“I think I am in the right place with the right team. I cannot wait for June but I know before this big event I need to do testing, simulator work and the race at Spa because I need to respect Le Mans. I will be fit, prepared and ready.”



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