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Laguna Seca lap record for Toyota and Zonta 21 Aug 2006

Ricardo Zonta (BRA), Toyota Third Driver, broke the Laguna Seca track record driving the Toyota TF106. Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races Presented by Toyota, Laguna Seca, Monterey, USA. 20 August 2006. Copyright Free/Steve Swope

Toyota test driver Ricard Zonta broke the lap record at California’s famous Laguna Seca circuit three times over the weekend as he demonstrated his TF106 as part of the annual Monterey Historic Automobile races.

Zonta’s Friday best of 1m 07.587s bettered the previous record of 1m 07.722s, set by fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves in a CART single-seater back in 2000. He then beat his own mark on Saturday with a 1m 06.596s, before shaving off another three tenths on Sunday to finish on 1m 06.309s.

"This has been a very satisfying weekend," said Zonta after the session. "This experience has brought up a lot of good memories from when I was here in '98 and won the FIA GT Championships. And, of course it's always a good feeling to come to a circuit and leave knowing you've set a new record."

Zonta had to pilot the Toyota through the circuit’s famous and gut-wrenching ‘corkscrew’ at Turns 8 and 8A (pictured) - considered one of the motorsport world's most challenging turns, due to the drop in elevation as well as its blind apex. Sunday also brought slightly windy and cooler weather conditions, as well as oil laid down on the track by the historic cars after a day and a half of racing.

"The older cars dropped oil in places on the track and I didn't want to challenge the car because I couldn't be certain where the oil was,” remarked Zonta. “I needed to assume there was a high possibility that oil was in many places. It was also more windy today than before and the blowing dust made the track slippery in places."

After one installation run, Zonta brought the car into the pits for new tyres. "We put slicks on after the installation lap, but the sun came out later today and the track didn't heat like it did the last several days," he added. "Unfortunately, the tyres couldn't work as well as possible."

Nevertheless, Zonta’s new record gave him an average speed around the 11-turn, 3.6 kilometre (2.238 mile) track of 195.5 km/h (121.504 mph).