Toyota kick-started the final test of 2006 today in Jerez, arriving a day earlier than the other nine teams due to test here during the coming four days. On track for the Japanese team was official test driver Franck Montagny as well as Kohei Hirate, taking part in only his third Formula One test of his career. Unsurprisingly, Montagny's experience got the better of Kohei, with the Frenchman clocking a time of 1:20.073, more than a second quicker than Hirate.
The team had a busy day at the track, with tyre evaluation being the main focus for the day. Along with that, the pair also worked on suspension set-ups to draw maximum performance from the tyres, software evaluation and practice starts. Toyota have a further two days at the track, as they wrap up a day earlier than the other teams, due to them starting today.
“Today's running was quite good. I worked well with the car and I am pretty happy with the work we did. We were expecting a few problems today because we were the only ones driving on the track,” said Montagny, today's fastest driver. “We thought we would have some graining of the tyres but that was not the case. The car worked well and I am pleased because it has improved quite a lot since I drove last Wednesday. We did a couple of long runs today and they seemed to go well, the car is quite steady and now we are looking forward to tomorrow.”
“The whole day I didn't have any problems and the car was fun to drive. At the end I was a bit tired because it was very hard to keep performing at a high level. The conditions were different to last time so it is hard to compare but we found a good set-up for this tyre and for tomorrow I think the team can start from a good position. This is my second time testing with Toyota and I am feeling more comfortable within the team,” enthused Kohei Hirate, after completing his third day of F1 testing. “From the first day I noticed the team works very well together. In these two tests I have learnt how to use the tyres and also how to gain time in the corners because it is quite different from the other cars I have driven. I have adapted to a Formula One style, which takes time to learn. I am sure this experience will help me next season in GP2, especially when it comes to the braking because this car is so strong under brakes. The other things I have learnt about, electronics and things like that are completely different to GP2 though.”
“Today we returned to our programme of testing next year's tyres. These last three tests of the year have followed pretty much the same pattern as we primarily try to learn more about the tyres while collecting set-up information in the process,” recapped Test Team Manager, Gerd Pfeiffer. “The track conditions were good and both drivers managed quite a few laps. Franck brings a lot of experience and he is working well with the team already while Kohei is learning fast and showed today he can be consistent and quick. We now have only two days testing left this year and we are aiming to make the most of them.”
All other teams, bar Spyker, will return to the track tomorrow for the first of their three-day test. Action will continue until Friday.
Unofficial times from Jerez (12/12/2006):