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TOYOTA Racing Takes Five and a Title

Round 7 of the World Endurance Championship

At one point in the 6 Hours of Bahrain it looked as if celebrations for winning the drivers’ World Championship may have to be put on hold, but through a combination of tireless teamwork and dogged determination, TOYOTA Racing celebrated its fifth victory of the FIA World Endurance Championship season and Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi secured a much-deserved drivers’ title.

The champions didn’t win the race though. Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway took the chequered flag for the first time this season in the #7 TS040 HYBRID. Davidson and Buemi in the #8 finished 11th, after losing time due to a technical issue, but worked their way gallantly up through the field to seal the title with a race to spare.

The title marks Toyota’s first drivers’ World Championship crown since Didier Auriol won the World Rally Championship in 1994.

Drama from the start

Excitement exploded from the off with an opening lap that saw Wurz and Buemi dice with their rivals, moving up from their respective second and fourth place grid positions. With only seven laps gone, the #8 took the lead thanks to some decisive driving by Buemi, while Wurz followed through into third.

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As the hour mark approached, with the TS040 HYBRIDs refuelled and fitted with new tyres under a full course yellow, both cars began to pull clear of the pack with a succession of characteristically quick laps.

With 90 minutes gone, and only nine seconds separating the two TS040 HYBRIDs, they pitted, Conway taking the wheel of the #7 and Buemi handing over to Davidson, who resumed in the lead.

A setback

However, this promising one-two lead formation wasn’t to last, with Davidson in the #8 being forced to make an unscheduled pit stop to change the alternator of the #8. This elevated Conway into the lead, but unfortunately Davidson lost 30 laps and resumed the race way back in 26th position, 17 laps behind.

With the goal of finishing the race – and following a second short stop to check the new alternator was functioning correctly – Davidson set about working his way back up the order.

6 Hours of Bahrain Highlights

Controlling the race

At the front it was all about consolidation as Conway continued to stretch his lead. At the half-distance mark, and with a minute’s gap to second place, he swapped with Sarrazin.

In the #8, Buemi returned to the wheel and began to make steady progress, setting the fastest lap of the race early in his second stint as Sarrazin safely guided the #7 into the final hour.

With 50 minutes remaining Buemi continued his rapid progress, shepherding the #8 up into 13th place as Davidson took over for the final stretch. The title was in sight.

Fittingly, after a determined fight back in Bahrain and a wonderfully combative season, both cars ran almost nose-to-tail during the last few minutes and, as Wurz took the chequered flag to win in the #7 by over 50 seconds, Davidson crossed the line to take the drivers’ title and make it a double celebration for TOYOTA Racing.

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A team effort

After the race a delighted Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President, said: “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.”

While a jubilant Anthony Davidson added: “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.”

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The result also strengthens TOYOTA’s hold on the manufacturers’ World Championship, extending the team’s lead over Audi to 40 points with a maximum of 44 points available in the final race in Sao Paulo on 30 November.

An exciting finale awaits.

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