TOYOTA GAZOO Racing aims to maintain its dominant start to the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season when it competes in Europe for the first time this year, at the 6 Hours of Portimao.

At the season-opening 1000 Miles of Sebring, perfect team operations, exceptional driver consistency and smart tyre management delivered a one-two victory over a packed Hypercar field featuring other legendary endurance racing marques, such as Cadillac, Ferrari, Peugeot and Porsche.

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez hold the advantage in the drivers’ standings after victory at Sebring in their #7 GR010 HYBRID. Reigning World Champions, and last year’s Le Mans winners, Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa began their title defence with a narrow second place.

After the unique challenges over the bumps in Sebring four weeks ago, Portimao marks the start of an important and intense European-based preparation period prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours, which includes the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps at the end of this month.

Sebastien and Brendon already have a Portimao victory to their name, achieved when leading home a TOYOTA GAZOO Racing one-two on WEC’s first race there, in the second round of the 2021 season. That was also Toyota’s 100th FIA World Championship sportscar race.

As well as being a challenging circuit for drivers, Portimao is also a challenge for team logistics. An epic road journey to deliver the GR010 HYBRIDs and working equipment to Portugal began on Thursday 6 April when five trucks left the team’s base in Cologne, Germany.

The trip will end on Sunday, after the team’s five trucks have passed through five countries and covered 2,500km on the way to the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, near the town of Portimao on Portugal’s southern coast. That distance is the equivalent to 538 laps of the 4.653km circuit, which would take a Hypercar around 14-and-a-half hours to complete at typical race pace and accounting for pit stops.

Preparation for the second race of the season begins on Friday, with a pair of 90-minute practice sessions, during which drivers and engineers will evaluate different aerodynamic and mechanical settings on the GR010 HYBRIDs, whilst also comparing the different compounds of Michelin tyres.

After a late-morning final practice on Saturday, the starting grid will be decided by a 15-minute qualifying session at 4.20pm that afternoon. The 6 Hours of Portimao, the second round of the seven-race 2023 WEC season, begins at midday local time (1pm CEST) on Sunday.

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