Team Toyota GB are ‘in good shape’ after testing of its new Toyota Corolla in Spain, with driver Tom Ingram saying he is ‘buzzing’ after three days of testing ahead of the start of the British Touring Car Championship season.
Speedworks Motorsport carried out three days of testing at the Circuit Calafat in Catalunya, following an initial shakedown at Oulton Park.
The team, which gained manufacturer backing from Toyota GB during the winter and will now be known as Team Toyota GB, were satisfied with how the pre-season preparation went under the warm Spanish sun.
“We were overwhelmed by the response on social media and all the enthusiastic messages we received when the first images of the car filtered out,” said Team Principal Christian Dick. “Seeing the Corolla take to the track for the first time was an emotional moment and a source of immense pride for everyone involved.
“It’s a very different car to the Avensis that we ran before in terms of its wheelbase, aerodynamic silhouette, centre of gravity and weight distribution. That means there has been a lot to learn and we have had to adopt a full belt-and-braces approach, but we now have a solid understanding of what makes the Corolla tick.
“I’m mindful of not wanting to build up any expectations, but everything went according to plan in Spain with no major dramas. We enjoyed good weather and put a lot of miles on the car, which has given us plenty of useful data to pore over back at base.
“Whilst there is clearly still room to improve, we seem to be in pretty good shape and can certainly be pleased with progress so far.
“It’s been a monumental effort by the whole team to get to this stage – everybody has done an absolutely phenomenal job – and I think we can be quietly optimistic following our first proper run with the Corolla.
“That said, with less than four weeks to the start of the season, there’s no time to ease off the gas and we will keep on pushing flat-out between now and Brands Hatch.”
Ingram, the reigning two-time Independents’ champion, was pleased by the pace of the new car on its first run in anger, admitting that he had not expected the car to be quick immediately in the test.
“The reaction to the car’s roll-out has been amazing,” said Ingram. “I know we’re obviously biased, but we think the new Corolla looks out-of-this-world and it seems a lot of people agree.
“We’ve even had rival team bosses and drivers telling us how impressed they are, which is a real vote of confidence and testament to the incredible job done by Toyota GB and the Speedworks crew.
“It was a really productive few days out in Spain; we ticked off everything on our checklist and have come home with a lot of questions answered, and most importantly, the car felt absolutely superb.
“We didn’t really expect to be quick straight off the bat, but by the end of the first day at Calafat, we were already there-or-thereabouts. What was particularly encouraging was how well the Corolla responds to minor set-up changes compared to the Avensis, and its stability and braking performance are extraordinary.
“I’m feeling so excited – really buzzing. It’s so cool to be going into the season with a new car, and we are working tirelessly to make sure we are in a strong position by the first round.
“To get the benefit of so much testing is a major bonus, and hopefully we can go to Brands Hatch and fight immediately at the front.”
Team Toyota GB will resume testing at Brands Hatch and Donington Park before the start of the season on the 6-7 April.