The team travels to China in a positive mood following a well-earned one-two finish in its home race at Fuji Speedway earlier this month, its third win from seven races in 2017.
Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 TS050 HYBRID are aiming for back-to-back victories after their triumph in Japan while Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 car will push for a first win of the season.
For José, the Shanghai International Circuit is a rarity on the 2017 WEC calendar as it is one of the few tracks he has visited before. He won three of his six races there in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, finishing second in the others.
The circuit, located 40km from central Shanghai, features a combination of long straights and a variety of corners, from very slow hairpins at the beginning and end of the lap to faster, sweeping corners in the middle section.
To meet that challenge, the TS050 HYBRIDs will again run in high-downforce specification with set-ups fine-tuned during Friday practice to maximise performance to the specific demands of the 16-corner track.
TOYOTA has won twice in its five previous visits to Shanghai, during its first WEC season in 2012 and then as part of its World Championship-winning 2014 campaign, while last season saw the TS050 HYBRIDs earn a strong double podium finish.
Both World Championships are mathematically still open but a 58.5-point deficit to Porsche in the manufacturers’ standings, and a 39-point gap from Sébastien and Kazuki to the drivers’ leaders, means a serious title battle is unlikely.
But with a strong history at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit, the team’s target is to build on the Fuji success and fight for victory not only in China, but also in Bahrain for the season finale on 18 November.
Hisatake Murata, Team President: “The whole team is pushing hard for this race. With Porsche leaving LMP1 at the end of the season, there are only two races remaining for us to test ourselves against such a strong competitor. So far in 2017, we have won three races but Porsche has won four; even if it is now very difficult to challenge for the World Championship, our target is to win more races. We also want to give the WEC fans another exciting battle between TOYOTA and Porsche in Shanghai. I am looking forward to it.”
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I like Shanghai as a circuit and I am looking forward to getting back on track. The track lay-out demands a lot from our cars and tyres so hopefully we can get everything dialled in; that will be our target in the practice sessions. There are two races left in the 2017 season which means two opportunities to hopefully get some more wins.”
Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “Shanghai is usually a good track for us and we could have won the race last year. We had two punctures and still finished second so if we can be on the same level, we can fight for the win. I enjoy Shanghai because the circuit is quite tricky so it’s very rewarding when you get everything right. I think it will be an exciting race and I hope to be on the podium again.”
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “Of course I’m really looking forward to Shanghai after a strong weekend in Fuji. I’m especially keen for some good weather so I can get some dry time on the track. I won in Shanghai three times in the WTCC, so it’s good that I know the track because it allows me to adapt quicker and be fully prepared. We will try to be competitive so that we can fight again for the race win.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8): “I love the track in Shanghai and after winning at home in Fuji we are definitely pushing for another strong result there. I have good memories of racing in China after winning there in 2014 so I can’t wait to see what we can do this year. The track has a great mix of corners and I am confident it should suit our TS050 HYBRID.”
Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #8): “I always enjoy the challenges of the Shanghai International Circuit. It’s a difficult one to master as the track is pretty challenging therefore setting up the car correctly is very important. Hopefully we will get a dry race after the tough conditions of Fuji, but either way I look forward to taking the fight to our competitors once again.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “We are all going to China with a positive feeling after the one-two in Fuji so we are determined to compete again for the win. As a team we have usually been strong in Shanghai so I am optimistic we can challenge. It will be tough as always against Porsche but the whole team is motivated to finish the season with more wins.”