TOYOTA GAZOO Racing braced for Bahrain battle
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing aims to finish the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season on a high with a third successive victory in the final race of the season, the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain.
TOYOTA and World Champions Porsche are level on four wins each this season, with the TS050 HYBRIDs having won the last two races, setting up a deciding contest at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López have earned four pole positions in 2017 in their #7 TS050 HYBRID and travel to the Middle East in search of their first victory of the season.
The #8 crew of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima are looking for a third consecutive win, and fifth in total, following their recent victories at Fuji Speedway and Shanghai International Circuit.
The 5.412km, 15-turn Bahrain International Circuit has seen success in the past for TOYOTA with wins in 2013 and 2014, while Alex Wurz concluded his illustrious career with a podium there at the end of a difficult 2015 season.
Saturday’s race marks TOYOTA’s final battle with Porsche for the foreseeable future, with the German manufacturer leaving the LMP1 class at the end of the season, adding a further interesting element to an already fierce competition.
Although the competitive action concludes at the end of the 6 Hours of Bahrain, there remains one final day of action, with the annual WEC rookie test on Sunday.
Hisatake Murata, Team President: “We are very motivated to finish the season with a victory in Bahrain, especially as that would give us the most wins in 2017. Porsche has proved their strength with another World Championship so they are clearly tough competitors. We will be pushing as hard as possible to give the fans an exciting battle for the final LMP1 competition between TOYOTA and Porsche. After our strong performances in Fuji and Shanghai, we are ready to fight in Bahrain.”
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “Bahrain is one of my favourite races so I am looking forward to going there and hopefully getting the win for car #7. We have been pushing for that all year. We have had four pole positions so we have to convert that to a win at some point. We learned a lot in Shanghai about tyre wear and Bahrain is a similar circuit in that regard, so hopefully that will be to our advantage.”
Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I am expecting a strong weekend again in Bahrain because we showed very good performance in Shanghai. It is the final fight between TOYOTA and Porsche in LMP1 so we should enjoy having another strong manufacturer to compete against. Definitely we want to win and I am confident we will have a chance.”
José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I know the Bahrain track from my time in GP2 and I enjoy it; I can’t wait to experience the TS050 HYBRID there. For the final race of the season we really want to finish in a positive way. Our car has been quick in the last two races so we expect to be competitive again in Bahrain but Porsche is pushing hard as well so we know it will be another tough fight.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8): “I’m looking forward to this weekend; Bahrain is a nice track where we have had good results in the past. The weather should be stable so we can concentrate on getting the most out of our car and tyres. Our car should be quite well suited to the characteristics of the circuit, with the heavy braking at the end of long straights. We will do our best to get another win.”
Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #8): “I enjoy racing in Bahrain and I expect we will again be competitive. We go there after back-to-back victories following our performance in Shanghai so we want to finish the season with a hat-trick of wins for the #8 car. I have good memories of Bahrain after winning the World Championship there in 2014 so I am looking forward to it.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “Bahrain is the last race of the season so I hope we can finish strongly, especially for the team, who have worked so hard all year. Winning races is always a good motivation so we will go to Bahrain with a lot of confidence after the speed we showed in Shanghai. But it’s another track and another race so we have to be focused and give everything to win again.”
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in 6 Hours of Bahrain:
2012 #7: Qualifying 3rd; Race DNF.
2013 #7: Qualifying 1st; Race DNF. #8: Qualifying 2nd; Race 1st.
2014 #7: Qualifying 4th; Race 1st. #8: Qualifying 2nd; Race 11th.
2015 #1: Qualifying 5th; Race 4th. #2: Qualifying 6th; Race 3rd.
2016 #5: Qualifying 6th; Race 4th. #6: Qualifying 5th; Race 5th.
About TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in the World Endurance Championship:
TOYOTA first competed in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 1983, marking the start of a long period of participation in endurance racing. Since 1985, TOYOTA cars have raced in 19 Le Mans 24 Hours races, achieving a best result of second place on five occasions. TOYOTA entered the revived WEC in 2012, combining the expertise from TOYOTA Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre, where the hybrid powertrain is developed, with TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH’s support and facilities for chassis development. The multi-national team includes engineers from TOYOTA’s motorsport and hybrid department, who deliver technology and know-how back into road car development. Since 2012, TOYOTA has earned 14 pole positions and won 15 races, finishing on the podium a total of 40 times. In 2014, the team won the drivers’ and manufacturers’ World Championships with the TS040 HYBRID while a year later TOYOTA celebrated 30 years since its first Le Mans entry.