Panasonic Toyota Racing today made an impressive start to its preparations for its home race. On a Suzuka Friday that started dry before rain in the afternoon, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had their first competitive outings in the TF105B car, which features a new front suspension layout. They finished the afternoon session with the 6th and 7th fastest times. Third driver Ricardo Zonta went even better, ending the second session with the fastest time. Toyota is hoping the new cars will help bring a strong result this weekend in front of its home crowd.
BUSY AS A B
Ralf Schumacher put in more laps than usual for a Friday as he worked to set up the B car before the rain set in.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17, Chassis TF105/09B) First Session Classification: 17th, 10 laps completed Lap Time: 1m33.735s (+3.203s) Second Session Classification: 6th, 13 laps completed Lap Time: 1m32.917s (+2.235s)
"This is a technically demanding circuit and I always enjoy running here, especially as a Toyota driver. The B car is a slight improvement on the TF105 that we have been running this year and the balance felt okay today so it should be good for Sunday. Another reason for bringing the TF105B to the last two races was to put in some work on the car as a preparation for next season. We have a long period ahead with no testing so this is very useful work."
Jarno Trulli enjoyed giving the new TF105B its race weekend debut in preparation for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16, Chassis TF105/10B) First Session Classification: 19th, 11 laps completed Lap Time: 1m34.535s (+4.003s) Second Session Classification: 7th, 13 laps completed Lap Time: 1m33.122s (+2.440s)
"This is a special race for the whole team and after such a great season we'd like to finish with another good result. I'm not yet happy with the balance of the B car but we have brought it here because it looks more consistent over long runs. The front end is likely to be used at the start of next season so this is a good chance to do some early trouble-shooting. It's still a young car so we need to find out how to get the best out of it."
LAND OF THE RISING ZONTA
Ricardo Zonta had a successful day's work on the standard TF105, consistently running among the fastest cars.
Ricardo Zonta (Car 38, Chassis TF105/02) First Session Classification: 2nd, 16 laps completed Lap Time: 1m31.075s (+0.543s) Second Session Classification: 1st, 21 laps completed Lap Time: 1m30.682s (fastest)
"The last time I drove here at Suzuka was back in 2000 so I'm glad to have gone so well on such a difficult, technical circuit. I took a risk with my set-up this morning and that gave me too much oversteer on the dirty track. Then we felt a good improvement before we had an electronic problem. In the afternoon there was the threat of rain so we had to work fast. I was driving the TF105 but the tyre comparison can still transfer to the B car so that is no problem."
Toyota is hoping that its new B-spec car will give the team the chance to fight for a good finish on Sunday.
Mike Gascoyne – Technical Director Chassis "We have a lot of updates on the TF105B, but the major change is to the front suspension and front aerodynamic configuration. Both race drivers spent the day putting miles on the car and getting used to its feel, which is quite different from the standard car. Ralf was reasonably happy with the balance, Jarno less so, but it was a productive first day considering how new the car is. Ricardo had an electronic problem this morning but he was still able to finish the tyre comparison before the rain. Now we hope to give the fans a good result on Sunday."