TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will bring the curtain down on an emotional and exciting 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season in this weekend’s 6 Hours of Bahrain.
The team travels to the Bahrain International Circuit for the ninth race of the season with plenty to fight for in both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ World Championships, whilst also aiming for a second win of the season.
Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, in the #6 TS050 HYBRID have an outside chance of winning the drivers’ title; they trail their Porsche #2 rivals by 17 points with 26 available in Bahrain.
The #5 crew of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima have plenty to fight for as well. They can strengthen TOYOTA’s position in the manufacturers’ standings; second-placed Audi are just 15 points ahead with 44 available.
In the last four races, TOYOTA has achieved five podiums and one victory, steadily closing the gap on its rivals in both championships prior to the visit to Bahrain, where it has positive memories.
The team won there in 2013 and 2014, when Anthony and Sébastien were also crowned drivers’ World Champions, while it has finished on the podium in three out of four seasons in Bahrain.
A strong result on the 5.412km, 15-turn Bahrain International Circuit would cap a remarkable debut season for the 1,000hp TS050 HYBRID, a new car for 2016 which incorporated a 2.4litre turbo engine and 8MJ battery-based hybrid system.
Despite intense competition from Audi and Porsche, the TS050 HYBRID has been a serious contender for victory in the majority of races in a 2016 season which saw the team recover from heartbreak at Le Mans to achieve an emotional home victory in Fuji.
The conclusion to the 2016 season takes place on Saturday, although the team remains in Bahrain for the WEC rookie test the following day when LMP2 driver Pipo Derani, a 23-year-old from Sao Paulo in Brazil, will drive the TS050 HYBRID.
Toshio Sato, Team President: “We are very much looking forward to the Bahrain race. There is a lot to fight for in both championships so I am sure it will again be a very close race between all three LMP1 manufacturers. It will be difficult to challenge for the drivers’ championship; we are realistic and we know we need a bit of luck. But our target is to achieve a strong result and take runners-up position in the manufacturers’ championship, which would be a deserved reward for the team’s hard work this year. As always, we will be giving our all to perform strongly.”
Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #5): “I can’t believe that we’re already at the end of the 2016 season. It’s been a long hard year but Bahrain is a track I always enjoy because I like the facilities and the flow of the circuit. I have usually been strong there as well. In car #5 we are really motivated to end the season on a high; we want a win from this season and I feel we deserve one after being denied at Spa and Le Mans. We will be doing everything we can.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #5): “It was so good to finish on the podium in Shanghai, so hopefully in Bahrain we can continue like that. I hope it is a turning point for us and that we can end the season with another positive result. Bahrain is a nice track where we had good results in the past and the characteristics of the circuit should suit our car as there are long straights with heavy braking and acceleration. So I’m really looking forward to go there to fight for the win.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #5): “Bahrain should be a good race track for us so I’m really looking forward to drive our TS050 HYBRID on this track. Last year we had probably our strongest race in Bahrain and this time I think we will be much stronger as the TS050 HYBRID is a big step compared to last year. So I’m sure we can show great performance in Bahrain and fight at the front. We will be pushing really hard for another positive result.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (TS050 HYBRID #6): “We are really excited to go to Bahrain; it’s the last race of the season, which is always a nice event with a special atmosphere. We’re still in the game for the drivers’ title; 17 points is quite a big gap but everything is possible, so we will fight to the end. We’ve shown strong performances in the last few races and I’ve really enjoyed fighting alongside my team-mates, who are doing an outstanding job. We are ready and we will keep pushing.”
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #6): “Bahrain is a circuit I really like as I already had some good results there in the past; I won my first WEC race there and it was the only podium our car last year. I’m looking forward to the last race of the season as we are still in the fight for the World Championship. We’ve been increasingly competitive, also in qualifying, in the last few events so I hope it will be the same in Bahrain and we can get the result for everyone in the team.”
Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #6): “The most important point for us is that we go to Bahrain still with a chance of the World Championship; that’s going to be our target even if it will not be easy. For me the season has already been fantastic, considering it was my first in LMP1. I know the Bahrain track very well from the past and I enjoy driving there, so I’m feeling pretty confident. I think our car will suit the track so let’s go and fight for the win.”
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in 6 Hours of Bahrain:
2012 #7: Qualifying 3rd; Race 1st.
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.