TOYOTA Racing won the Six Hours of Bahrain which was held recently for its fifth victory of the FIA World Endurance Championship season as Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi secured the drivers’ title with a race to spare. The #7 TS040 HYBRID of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway won its first race of the season with a fine performance, earning TOYOTA Racing’s fifth victory of the 2014 season.
Anthony and Sébastien in the #8 TS040 HYBRID became the 2014 drivers’ World Champions, holding an unassailable lead in the standings with only one race remaining. This marks TOYOTA’s first drivers’ World Championship crown since Didier Auriol won the World Rally Championship in 1994. The result also strengthens TOYOTA’s hold on the manufacturers’ World Championship, extending the lead over its nearest competitor to 40 points with a maximum of 44 points available in the final race, in Sao Paulo on 30 November.
According to Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, TOYOTA Motor Corporation, “This is truly a historic moment for Toyota and I would like to congratulate the entire team for this significant milestone in winning the drivers title. Through our performance in the World Endurance Championships, Toyota is striving to create ever-better cars that satisfy drivers while promoting opportunities for car enthusiasts to gather around vehicles and share their dreams, hopes and enthusiasm for cars. Moreover, the hybrid car segment represents a huge opportunity for Toyota to contribute to a more sustainable future and the experience at such championships will be invaluable in helping us build a better hybrid vehicle for the mass market.”
On this occasion, Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President said: “Congratulations to Anthony and Sébastien on becoming World Champions. They deserve the title, which is not just for the drivers themselves, but recognises a fantastic effort by the whole team. This is a really big prize, particularly because this year was the start of a new era of fuel efficiency. They are the first champions under these new regulations and we are very proud that the TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing proved its performance by powering them to this title. Thank you to everyone who has been involved; all at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, our colleagues in Motor Sport Division and the Hybrid Department of TOYOTA Motor Corporation in Japan plus our friends from ORECA and all our partners. Also I would like to pay tribute to our fans, who have been so supportive since the start of our project. Of course, big congratulations as well to Alex, Stéphane and Mike for their victory today.”
According to Anthony Davidson: “It’s been an amazing year. For me personally this is the biggest achievement in my career by a long way so it is a big day. I have never been a World Champion before so this means a lot and it still hasn’t really sunk in yet. The team did an amazing job and have given us the fastest car. It wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to win the title but I’m not complaining. Big thanks to the mechanics today for getting the car out on track again, not only the #8 guys but also the crew from #7 who helped out. This championship has been a real team effort and I’m so grateful to everyone who has made it happen. It’s a great day but there is still one more job to do in Brazil; win the manufacturers’ World Championship.”
There was drama throughout the race, starting on the opening lap when Alex and Sébastien swapped positions with their rivals having started from fourth and second respectively. After 90 minutes both cars pitted on the same lap, with just nine seconds separating them. Mike took the wheel of the #7 while Sébastien handed over to Anthony, who resumed in the lead. That did not last however, with the #8 needing an unscheduled pit stop to change the alternator. That elevated Mike in the #7 to the lead, while Anthony resumed 30 minutes later in 26th, 17 laps behind. A further short stop to confirm the new alternator was functioning correctly soon followed before Anthony continued with a mission to finish the race and wrap up the drivers’ World Championship. The target for the #7 was different and Mike continued to stretch the lead, which stood at close to a minute when Stéphane took over soon after half distance.
Sébastien returned to the wheel of the #8 and made steady progress, setting the fastest lap of the race early in his second stint as Stéphane safely guided the #7 into the final hour before handing over to Alex. The #8 was rapidly rising up the order and lay 13th with 50 minutes remaining when Anthony took the wheel for his final stint. Both cars ran almost nose to tail during the final minutes, with Alex leading them over the line to win in the #7 by 50.460secs, as Anthony took the flag to make it a double celebration for TOYOTA Racing.
- TS040 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi)
- Race: 11th, 177 laps, 7 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 45.989secs
- TS040 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
- Race: 1st, 195 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 46.377secs