Anthony Davidson: I just can’t wait to get started

“I absolutely love Japan”

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By Olivier Ferret

22 February 2012 - 12:15
Anthony Davidson: I just can’t wait (...)

As a winner of some of endurance racing’s classic events, Anthony Davidson was a popular choice as driver of TOYOTA Racing’s car #8 at Le Mans. The British driver tells us his first impressions of the team and the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID …

What are your thoughts on joining TOYOTA Racing?

It’s really exciting to sign with TOYOTA. It feels like a new chapter in my career and I just can’t wait to get started. TOYOTA is such a huge manufacturer and to be involved in their World Endurance Championship project in LMP1 is fantastic.

How much have you been able to learn about the programme since you signed the contract?

I have already been to the factory in Cologne to see the car and meet the team. I had a session on the simulator as well so I got a first taste of the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. I’m still yet to meet up with the other drivers but apart from Hiroaki I know them all already.

What were your impressions of TMG?

The facilities at are great; I’d always heard how comprehensive they are and every word was true. It is a really impressive facility; everything inside is state of the art. To know that such infrastructure is part of our project gives you a lot of confidence as a driver. It was nice to meet all the team at TMG and I had a really good vibe from everyone. It felt like a close-knit family affair which was a nice discovery.

How was your simulator drive?

I had a couple of hours on the simulator and got a feel for the car. It was a good session. I am very familiar with simulators, like most modern drivers, and I think it is important for top teams to have them in their armoury. It was great to get an idea of what to expect from the TOYOTA TS030 HYBRID. It did feel very familiar I must say, running on the same tyres as I am used to, and that is a good thing. I think my driving style suits LMP1 cars pretty well and it all clicked in the simulator.

What are your first impressions about the car?

It’s clear that a team with modern F1 experience has created this LMP1 car; that was my first thought. Every detail of the car has been looked into and exploited. From the first look it seems very intricate and detailed; and beautiful at the same time. LMP1 cars are quite often beautiful but this TOYOTA looks impressive. I can’t wait to actually drive it and feel the sensations from inside the car.

How do you feel about driving a hybrid at Le Mans?

It is quite interesting. I have never driven a hybrid car before; I only ever did one straight line test with KERS in F1 so it has been interesting to learn and understand more about the details. I love all the detail that goes into a modern race car and this is a whole new area to get my head around. I feel for a driver there is a lot of advantage to understanding a system inside out and that is where the simulator comes into its own. I already have some ideas about what to expect on the circuit and how to operate the system; normally you would have to wait until you got into the car at a test. That shows why it’s so important these days to have a simulator because the cars are so technical now.

Tell us about Le Mans…

It’s one of those races that really grips you as a driver. Once you’ve done it you always want to come back. But it’s a real challenge and so many elements must come together to have a chance to win it. I have been close a couple of times so hopefully my big chance comes along very soon.

Obviously you already know Alex very well from your last team; what’s he like as a team-mate?

Since I signed for the team we have been in constant contact. Alex is a great guy to have in the team; I am so pleased he is here. I have been friends with him for many years, well before we were actually team-mates. I really enjoyed my time as his team-mate. He is such an experienced driver and he knows almost everything there is to know about the sport. He is a real team player and a very level-headed, technical driver; he is great on and off the circuit. He is always keen to perfect the car and the team around him. Even though we will not be driving the same car, in endurance racing you regard all of the drivers in the team as genuine team-mates so I’m looking forward to working with him again.

What about your team-mates in car #8? Let’s start with Hiroaki…

I’ve never met Hiroaki but I have been looking up his racing stats and his achievements so I know he’s a very capable driver. He has competed at the Nürburgring 24 Hours and I don’t think any endurance race comes much tougher than that! He has done some great things out in Japan in Super GT and we’ve seen in the past that guys from that series can be very, very quick. After all, two of the Le Mans winners from last year came from Super GT. I’m looking forward to meeting him and driving with him. Hopefully we will click together as team-mates and get a good result at Le Mans.

And how about Sébastien?

Due to my commentating work I have been watching a lot of Sébastien these last couple of years. Like many in the sport I was very surprised to see him become available at the end of last season. Their loss is TOYOTA’s gain. I am sure he will continue to show his speed in a closed LMP1 car as well. I am really excited to have him onboard. It was a big surprise for me when I moved from single-seaters into endurance racing – I just fell in love with it. I hope Sébastien feels the same way and I am sure he will.

TOYOTA is a Japanese company and you will be racing with a Japanese flag on the #8 car at Le Mans. How do you feel about Japan?

I absolutely love Japan. I have had quite an affiliation with Japan during my career and I’ve loved it since my first visit there. It is an amazing country with lovely people who are passionate about racing and very dedicated. I have always found it easy to work with Japanese people; it just all clicks with me and the Japanese culture. I am really pleased to be associated with Japan again so I am really excited in that respect. And don’t forget the food – it’s the best in the world!

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