Toyota GAZOO Racing returned to the podium in a thrilling Six Hours of Bahrain, the final round of the 2015 World Endurance Championship which was held recently at the Bahrain International Circuit.
An emotional result saw Alex Wurz stand on the podium in his last-ever race, claiming third place in the #2 TS040 Hybrid he shared with Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway.
As well as being the team's first podium since the opening round of the season at Silverstone, the result also marked Alex's 12th podium for Toyota in 28 races, including five victories. Another very reliable race for the TS040 Hybrid saw the team profit in the Bahrain heat, whilst some of its rivals encountered problems, and the #1 of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima finished a strong fourth.
The race began in bright sunshine as Sébastien established the #1 in fifth, while Alex, taking the start in the #2 for his last-ever race, was sixth. Despite a busy track and plenty of incidents, both TS040 Hybrids kept up a strong pace, with the #1 putting increasing pressure on its sister car for third as all drivers took their turn fighting for a strong result to end the season. The two Toyotas established themselves in a clear third and fourth, closing out the final two hours with consistent lap times and crossing the line together, separated by only 1.177 seconds.
According to Takayuki Yoshitsugu, Chief Representative, Middle East and North Africa Representative Office, Toyota Motor Corporation, “It was a superb performance by the team to earn a podium finish at Bahrain. I congratulate the team for their performance and their competitive spirit all throughout this season. This deep involvement in motorsports has helped Toyota tremendously and led to new insights in making ever better cars both on the track and off it, while putting the high performance capabilities of Toyota hybrid vehicles in a more positive light. I would like to thank our fans for their encouragement and we look forward to their support during what promises to be an exciting season in 2016.”
On this occasion, Toshio Sato, Team President, said, “It was great to finally fight for a podium again. This was a nice way to finish a difficult season and it gives us added motivation for the winter. We want to be battling at the front every race. That is the expectation for next year and everyone is already working hard to achieve this. This was a special race, as the last one for Alex before his retirement and I am happy he could end his career in a positive way.”
According to Alex Wurz, “In my last race, I got a bit unfortunate with some technical issues, but otherwise we had a faultless day in our car and that brought us to third. We had a hard battle with the sister car which went down to the wire in the end. It was nerve-wracking to watch. I am very happy for the team, who got their reward for always working very hard.”
Toyota finished the year third in the manufacturers' World Championship. Anthony and Sébastien placed fifth on exactly the same points as the #2 crew but ahead courtesy of more fourth places. Kazuki was seventh having missed the Spa race in Belgium due to injury.
Today's race brought the curtain down on the TS040 Hybrid era. It competed in 16 races over two seasons, winning five times as part of 14 podium finishes, most of which came during its double World Championship-winning season in 2014. It will be succeeded by an all-new car for 2016 which will start testing early next year prior to its first public appearance during the Prologue test at France’s Paul Ricard circuit in March.
• TS040 Hybrid #1 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Race: 4th, 196 laps, 6 pit stops. Grid: 5th. Fastest lap: 1min 44.314secs
• TS040 Hybrid #2 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
Race: 3rd, 196 laps, 6 pit stops. Grid: 6th. Fastest lap: 1min 44.793secs