TOYOTA RACING TAKES DRIVERS’ TITLE AND VICTORY
TOYOTA Racing won the Six Hours of Bahrain 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 finished 11th after losing time due to a technical issue but nevertheless become the 2014 drivers’ World Champions, holding an unassailable lead in the standings with only one race remaining.
That marks TOYOTA’s first drivers’ World Championship crown since Didier Auriol won the World Rally Championship in 1994.
Today’s result also strengthens TOYOTA’s hold on the manufacturers’ World Championship, extending the lead over Audi to 40 points with a maximum of 44 points available in the final race, in Sao Paulo on 30 November.
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.
Despite losing ground at the first turn, the TS040 HYBRIDs soon asserted themselves and within seven laps the #8 had taken the lead thanks to some decisive driving from Sébastien, while Alex was in similar fighting mood as he moved into third.
A brief full course yellow after 30 minutes gave both cars the chance to pit early for new tyres and more fuel. With the rest of the field circulating slowly, time lost in the pits was minimised and Sébastien resumed in third with Alex fourth.
Both soon moved up a place and, close to the one-hour mark, took over at the head of the field, running one-two and setting similarly competitive lap times to pull clear.
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.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “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. After a few races where various factors have hindered the #7, they were very quick and consistent today on a track which is one of the toughest on tyres. They did a great job.”
TS040 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
Race: 1st, 195 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 46.377secs
Alex Wurz: “I’m very happy for my team-mates on becoming World Champions. They have been mega all season. We work very hard together as drivers and there is a great atmosphere between us. Now they are the World Champions so they should enjoy it. We won the race so I am very happy with that. I must say thanks to Stéphane who pushed us in the right direction on set-up earlier in the weekend. We had a strong car and it was a good team effort.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “Congratulations to Anthony and Sébastien. They have had an amazing season and they deserve this moment. I’m really pleased with our race and it’s fantastic to win again, especially here in Bahrain where I won in the #8 last season. In my stint I had to save a bit of fuel to avoid needing a splash later in the race. I worked hard to manage the situation and did a good stint; it all worked out well. Alex and Mike both did a great job, in fact the whole team has performed really well this week and all season.”
Mike Conway: “Well done to Anthony and Sébastien on sealing the World Championship. They have had an extremely strong season. Today was a great result for us in #7. Stéphane and Alex did some awesome stints and I am pleased with my performance. It’s great to pay back the faith and support the team has shown me. To win my first WEC race, in only my second race with TOYOTA, is a great result and a great day. I will cherish this moment for a long time.”
TS040 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi)
Race: 11th, 177 laps, 7 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 45.989secs
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.”
Sébastien Buemi: “I am really pleased; it’s a great feeling to win the World Championship. It’s not the way we wanted to get it but we are really happy. To win a championship when you are competing against Porsche and Audi is a fantastic achievement. We had the car to win the race but I’m happy #7 won. Thanks to the team because to win a championship you need a great car and that’s what they gave us. Even if it is the drivers’ World Championship, it is really a title for the team because without everyone here at the track, back at Cologne and in Higashifuji, Anthony and I would not be here today. If we can make sure we win the manufacturers’ championship in Brazil it will be a fantastic year.”
TOYOTA RACING TITLE FIGHT MOVES TO BAHRAIN
TOYOTA Racing aims to tighten its grip on the FIA World Endurance Championship in the penultimate round of the 2014 season, the Six Hours of Bahrain.
After consecutive one-two victories, TOYOTA leads the manufacturers’ World Championship by 29 points with the 1,000PS four-wheel-drive TS040 HYBRID having won four of the six races so far this season.
The team is on top in the drivers’ World Championship as well, with Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, who share the #8 TS040 HYBRID, taking a 42-point advantage to Bahrain. With only 52 points still available, they can secure the title this weekend.
Test and reserve driver Mike Conway will return to a race seat in the #7 car in Bahrain when he replaces Kazuki Nakajima, who is instead competing in the final event of the Super GT season, at Motegi.
Mike’s only previous race in a TS040 HYBRID came in the rain-affected Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas in Austin, when the #7 crew finished sixth.
With the green flag flying to start the race at 15.00 local time on Saturday, the Six Hours of Bahrain will again end in darkness. A floodlight system, similar to that used last year but now implemented over the complete track, will provide artificial light.
The team has some positive memories from Bahrain, having seen the #8 car win the 2013 season finale almost 12 months ago in the final race for the TS030 HYBRID.
Practice in Bahrain begins on Thursday with two 90-minute sessions (15.15 & 19.30) providing experience of driving in dusk and night conditions. Final practice (11.10-12.20) and qualifying (17.35-18.00) occur on Friday.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “Bahrain is an important weekend for TOYOTA Racing and we are looking forward to it. Our TS040 HYBRID has proved to be competitive at every circuit this season and we believe we can be strong as well in Bahrain. The overall target has to be the World Championship so we will put the priority on finishing the race with both cars without taking unnecessary risks. It’s a nice position to be in but we know how quickly things can change in motorsport and the competition in WEC is intense, so we take nothing for granted. The finishing line for the 2014 season is in sight and we know what we have to do in Bahrain.”
Alex Wurz (TS040 HYBRID #7): “We have been quick in Bahrain in the past and the circuit should suit our 1,000PS hybrid system as it has plenty of hard braking zones. So I am sure we can be competitive if we prepare well and get the maximum out of our package. It’s been great to have been so competitive in the last two races but that’s in the past now and we have to do it all over again in Bahrain in order to strengthen our position in the World Championship. Personally, I’d love to be on the top step of the podium again so I’m fully motivated.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I like racing in Bahrain; it’s a nice track and our car should work well there. It’s been really strong everywhere so far this season and it’s just amazing to have a car like that; such a great feeling for a driver. Personally I have some good memories in Bahrain as I won there last season in the #8 with Anthony and Sébastien. It would be nice to win again but the important thing is the World Championship for the team and that is what we will be concentrating on. It’s been a great season so far for and I hope we can finish the job in the final two races of the year.”
Mike Conway (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I am really pleased to be competing with TOYOTA Racing again and I’m looking forward to joining Alex and Stéphane in the #7 again. It’s good for me to get more time behind the wheel of the TS040 HYBRID; it’s an impressive car to drive and obviously very competitive. I will be pushing hard to contribute to the team’s World Championship challenge this weekend. I know the Bahrain track pretty well from my LMP2 days, when I won the class and also the championship in 2013. So I know what to expect and I can’t wait to get started.”
Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #8): “We are within touching distance of the drivers’ World Championship but I know we cannot afford to get carried away. Anything can happen so it’s really important we stay calm this weekend, take no risks and get the job done. It might mean we are not going flat-out for the victory with the #8 but we have to look at the bigger picture. We have built up a lot of momentum in the last two races; it feels like we are really in the zone. The team has done such a good job this season, I can’t thank them enough for their efforts and I know everyone is now totally focused on getting the points we need this weekend.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS040 HYBRID #8): “I can’t wait to get going again in Bahrain. The last two races have gone so well, it really feels like we have a good rhythm and we want to keep this going for the final two races of the season. We have to continue to do what worked well in Fuji and Shanghai; stay concentrated and prepare in the best way. Our car has been great all season so from that point of view I am optimistic. It is very exciting to be leading the World Championship so close to the end of the season and the target all year has been to win both titles; I will be giving everything to achieve that.”
Toyota Racing Dominates in China
TOYOTA Racing took its second consecutive one-two victory, winning the Six Hours of Shanghai by more than a lap to extend its lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi took a dominant win in the #8 TS040 HYBRID, their fourth of the season, to stretch their lead in the drivers’ World Championship to 42 points.
The 1,000PS four-wheel-drive TS040 HYBRID, which dominated the last round in Fuji, was once again in a class of its own with Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima taking second place in the #7.
That gives TOYOTA a 29-point advantage in the manufacturers’ World Championship with two races remaining.
The race started in bright sunshine, with Sébastien and Alex retaining second and fourth positions respectively during the first corners before an accident at the rear of the field brought out the safety car.
While the pack circulated slowly behind the safety car, both cars pitted for new tyres and more fuel, therefore eliminating the need for a short refuelling stop late in the race when more time would be lost.
When racing resumed after 25 minutes, Alex was the leading TS040 HYBRID as Sébastien had pitted a second time to top up on fuel due to a temporary refuelling issue at his first stop.
Sébastien overtook Alex while both soon moved into the top six and began closing on the leaders.
Setting fastest laps on the way, Sébastien battled past the front runners and into the lead by the time he handed over to Anthony, who resumed ahead. Alex was close behind and made two decisive overtaking moves to move from fourth to second.
The two-hour mark passed with the TS040 HYBRIDs stretching their advantage and soon after, at the next round of stops, Stéphane took over the #7 from Alex while Anthony continued for another stint.
A smooth race continued and, as the 100-lap milestone approached, Sébastien returned to the wheel of the #8, by now holding a healthy advantage over the #7.
While Sébastien continued for a second stint in the #8, Stéphane handed the #7 to Kazuki with more smooth pit stops helping to maintain TOYOTA Racing’s control of the race.
By the time Sébastien swapped with Anthony for the final time, the #8 held a one-lap lead over all cars except the second-place #7. That left Anthony and Kazuki to bring the cars home for the team’s third one-two finish of the season.
The battle for the World Championship now moves into the final stages with just two races remaining, in Bahrain on 15 November and Sao Paulo on 30 November.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “This is the result we have all worked hard for, so thank you to everyone in the team; the pit crew, drivers and engineers who did a great job, particularly on tyre management. The car was quick straight out of the box here in Shanghai. We were disappointed to miss the pole position by such a tiny margin but the big job was the race today. It’s exactly the result we wanted for the World Championship and puts us in a strong position for the remaining races. Now we want to keep this momentum in Bahrain and Sao Paulo.”
TS040 HYBRID #7 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Kazuki Nakajima)
Race: 2nd, 188 laps, 6 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 49.216secs
Alex Wurz: “That was a mega result for us. It doesn’t get better than a one-two for the team. After the opening laps I wasn’t sure we could manage that because we had a sensor issue on our car. We couldn’t use maximum power early in the race as one of the sensors wasn’t working properly. So we weren’t able to give the #8 guys a run for their money today. But still everyone did a good job to bring the #7 home in second place so I’m very happy.”
Stéphane Sarrazin: “It was a very good race for the team. A one-two is just amazing, as it was in Fuji. We scored big points for the Manufacturers’ World Championship today which was the big target. I didn’t take any crazy risks during my stint; I was careful in traffic and tried to keep a steady pace. The car worked well and I am happy with how the race went. The World Championship was the main focus for us and we achieved our target as a team.”
Kazuki Nakajima: “Congratulations to the team who did a great job today. A one-two finish means we get the maximum possible points today which is great for us in both World Championships. I’m really pleased. I couldn’t relax in my stint because the Porsche was quite close and it wasn’t certain we would finish second. So I pushed hard and I’m happy I could build a gap which made it a bit more comfortable towards the end of the race.”
TS040 HYBRID #8 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi)
Race: 1st, 188 laps, 7 pit stops. Fastest lap: 1min 48.694secs
Anthony Davidson: “Today the whole team did a great job with the right strategy and solid pit stops; everyone kept calm and focused on getting the result. We showed we had the fastest car in Fuji and we’ve done that again here in Shanghai. We didn’t want to take too many risks, particularly in traffic so it was a relatively quiet race for me; Seb did all the spectacular work at the start. To get such a result at this stage of the season is huge for us and now we aim to continue like this in the final two races.”
Sébastien Buemi: “I’m really happy because this is a good step towards the championship. It makes the win even sweeter when it’s a one-two; it’s the best result we could imagine today. The team performed really well, as did Anthony. All in all it was a very good race and the car worked well from beginning to end. It’s our third one-two this season, after Fuji and Silverstone, so now I can’t wait for Bahrain. Hopefully we can keep going like this.”