Having started at Silverstone back in April, the WEC season has taken in eight countries on four continents with over 60 hours of racing.
TOYOTA Racing brings the curtain down on its first full FIA World Endurance Championship season this weekend with the eighth and final round, the Six Hours of Bahrain.
Once again there will be two TS030 HYBRIDs present, with Kazuki Nakajima returning to the #7 line-up alongside Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre. The #8 will be driven by Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin.
The Bahrain race brings that season to a close and also marks the final competitive appearance for the TS030 HYBRID, which has won four races and achieved 10 podium finishes since its debut at Le Mans 2012.
The latest podium came at the last race, when the #7 finished second in Shanghai, although that result proved disappointing after the team led for long periods until misfortune struck.
TOYOTA Racing is looking to fulfil the promise shown in Shanghai at the 5.412km Bahrain International Circuit, south of the capital Manama.
Last year’s race was held earlier in the year and, in extremely hot conditions, the #7 was a strong contender for victory until its retirement.
With seven hybrid recovery zones in Bahrain, three more than at the previous three races, the team expects to make full use of the 300hp acceleration boost delivered by the TOYOTA HYBRID System - Racing.
Practice in Bahrain begins on Thursday with two 90-minute sessions (15.15 and 19.30) while Friday sees final practice (10.25-11.25) before qualifying (16.20-16.45). The race begins at 15.00 on Saturday and will therefore end in darkness.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “It seems a long time since the season started in April and we have experienced many different emotions along the way. The important point for me is that we have shown constant improvement throughout the season, both in terms of car and team performance. I am proud of how we have fought to overcome several challenges and I hope we can end the season on a high note in Bahrain, particularly after we came so close to winning in Shanghai. Last year the TS030 HYBRID was particularly strong in Bahrain, on a circuit which allows us to use our hybrid system very effectively, so I am looking forward to a competitive weekend.”
Alex Wurz (TS030 HYBRID #7): “Even if Bahrain is the last race of the season, that doesn’t mean there will be any let up in the battle at the front. Everyone wants to finish the season with a good result to remember through all the winter hard work so we can expect a tough challenge. In a way this is our goodbye to the TS030 HYBRID so we will be aiming to give it a successful send-off; the best way to do that is to pull into parc fermé in P1 on Saturday night.”
Nicolas Lapierre (TS030 HYBRID #7): “We have unfinished business in Bahrain. Last year we had the speed and we were leading until we had some bad luck. Our car really suited the circuit and worked well in the heat. This time the heat should be less extreme which is better; it was very tough on the drivers and cars. Our driver line-up is complete again now that Kazuki is back with us in the #7. It will be nice to work with him again. Last time we were all together we won, so hopefully we can repeat that.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS030 HYBRID #7): “I am looking forward to returning to the #7 car and driving alongside Alex and Nicolas again. With no racing laps for any of us in Fuji, it’s still Le Mans since I last raced flat-out with the TS030 HYBRID so I’m excited to get behind the wheel on Saturday. I know Bahrain from earlier in my career so it will be good to go back there. I hope the car is as competitive as it was in Shanghai; I followed the race and shared in the team’s emotions.”
Anthony Davidson (TS030 HYBRID #8): “It’s been a rollercoaster year in many ways, with some disappointments and also plenty to be proud of. From a personal point of view I’ve really enjoyed being at every WEC race in 2013 and I have seen the team grow and develop during that time. It’s been a long journey from Silverstone to Bahrain; our last event in Shanghai was particularly frustrating because we were on course for the win. I hope we can bring it home this time as a reward for all the team’s hard work.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS030 HYBRID #8): “I’m looking forward to racing in Bahrain; it’s a country and circuit that I like. Hopefully we can again show the same good pace we had in Shanghai and get a strong result. I think November will be the ideal time to race there as the conditions should be perfect for us. It’s nice to have a race which starts during the day but finishes in darkness; we will be racing as the sun goes down so it seems fitting that this is the last event of the season.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (TS030 HYBRID #8): “I am extremely motivated for this race. We were all disappointed not to win in Shanghai when things had looked so good, but we have recovered and we are motivated to end the season with a good result in Bahrain for all the team members who have worked so hard this year. Of course, the work doesn’t stop when the season ends; actually for many of the guys it gets even busier as the new car is prepared. It would be nice for everyone to look back on a successful end to the season during the busy winter months.”