Toyota's 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 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.”
From Toyota Racing