Toyota says Porsche the favourite to win at Nurburgring

Pole winner Toyota believes it is second favourite behind Porsche going into Sunday's Nurburgring round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. 

Toyota says Porsche the favourite to win at Nurburgring
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

The Japanese manufacturer suspects that Porsche's new high-downforce version of the 919 Hybrid will have an advantage in the six-hour race at the German track based on the evidence of free practice. 

Toyota driver Anthony Davidson told Motorsport.com: "From what we have seen, it looks like they have got five or six tenths on us. I'm almost relieved that the gap is so so small, so we are not giving up the fight. 

"None of us has done a double stint yet, so hopefully our car will look after its tyres a bit better through the second stint."

Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon added: "They were looking good on the long runs. It is quite difficult to analyse, but I am not going to say that we are looking super-good."

Porsche also believes that it has "the faster race car", according to Timo Bernhard.  

Toyota also admitted that it didn't expect to claim pole with the TS050 Hybrid, which ended up fastest on aggregate in the hands of Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi. 

"Is it a total surprise? No. Were we expecting it? No," said Vasselon. 

Both sets of Porsche drivers explained that they were disappointed not to get the pole. 

Brendon Hartley and Bernhard, who qualified second, lost time respectively with tyre temperature issues and traffic in the #2 car, while Neel Jani lost approximately half a second with a moment at Turn 12 in the #1 car in which Andre Lotterer set the fastest time in qualifying. 

Vasselon explained that Toyota has traditionally struggled at the Nurburgring since its arrival on the WEC calendar in 2015 because the circuit favours Porsche's hybrid system. 

"Our double KERS [kinetic energy recovery system] produces far too much energy, which means we have to detune it and it has a negative effect on the car balance and the brake temperature," he said. 

He explained that the Porsche, which recovers energy from a front-axle KERS system and engine exhaust gases, was less affected by the stop-start nature of the Nurburgring's layout. 

"On the hybrid system side we are on the back foot," he continued. "It hurts us and favours Porsche's systems, because they are able to boost to the maximum without any issues."

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