Toyota factory driver Stephane Sarrazin is one of few drivers during this weekend’s combined ALMS and WEC event with prior prototype racing experience at Circuit of The Americas.
The Frenchman, who shares the Toyota TS030 Hybrid P1 car (BELOW) with Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemi, took part in the Grand-Am Rolex Series event at COTA in March driving an 8Star Motorsports Corvette Daytona Prototype, and admitted it took a bit of time to adjust how he drove the 3.4-mile, 20-turn road course.
“That was a big step honestly; when I [drove] here with the DP, we finished fourth with 8Star,” he told RACER. “It was a good race for us. But when I arrived here I have to change all of my references. And it’s so big a difference. For example, I was braking at [the] 150 [marker] with the DP in Turn 1, and now I brake at 50100 meters later. On the corners I was in fourth [gear], now I’m in fifth flat out; it’s a different track. It’s not possible to compare it. We are running in 10 seconds quicker per lap. It’s very fast.
Despite the massive performance gap between the costly Toyota P1 and the budget-minded Corvette DP, Sarrazin says he enjoys racing the large DP grids which, based on the four-car WEC P1 grid at COTA, is worth noting. The lack of technology in DP, however, continues to be a point of contention for the rapid 37-year-old.
“DP: it’s a good battle because it’s 14 to 16 cars and it’s a big battle,” Sarrazin continued. “A lot of restarts safety car restarts for the show. But in terms of technology, the DP is far from everything. And LMP2 car is a carbon car, a proper racing car and LMP1 technology the Hybrid from Toyota is amazing. So there’s no comparison.”
Sarrazin was in USA. two weeks ago competing with 8Star at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and seemed rather enthused to have back-to-back races at world-renowned American venues.
“I like all the tracks in America, especially, Sebring, Petit Le Mans, Watkins Glen, Monterey was good; I like this American old-style,” he said with a smile. “[The COTA track is] uphill, downhill, concrete, very unsecure obviously compared to Europe, but I like that. I like rally and it feels like that.”