Toyota ready for Bahrain battle
Nov 14, 2016 By Toyota Australia.
Toyota aims for title success in Bahrain.
Toyota Gazoo Racing aims to celebrate the climax of a tough 2016 World Endurance Championship season by overhauling Audi in the battle of the manufacturers at this weekend’s final race in Bahrain.
Improved performances in recent rounds have also opened the door for Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the #6 TS050 Hybrid to snatch the drivers’ title from leaders Porsche.
The team acknowledges it will need luck on its side – the sort of luck that cruelly deserted them with a heartbreaking last-lap mechanical failure that deprived them of an historic first Toyota victory at the Le Mans 24-hour race in June.
Sarrazin and his teammates in the #6 car have closed to within 17 points of their German rivals in the drivers’ championship, with a maximum of 26 points available at the 6 Hours of Bahrain.
In the manufacturers’ standings, the #5 crew of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will be fighting to strengthen Toyota’s position where just 15 points separate Toyota from Audi, with 44 on offer at the weekend.
Team president Toshio Sato said he expected a tight race between the three manufacturers, particularly with so much at stake in both championships.
“It will be difficult to challenge for the drivers’ championship; we are realistic and we know we need a bit of luck,” Mr Sato said.
“Our target is to achieve a strong result and take the runners-up position in the manufacturers’ championship,” he said.
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 Davidson and Buemi were 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 2.4-litre turbo engine and 8MJ battery-based hybrid system.
Despite intense competition from Audi and Porsche, Toyota has been a serious contender for victory in the majority of races in a 2016 season which saw the team recover from the tragedy of Le Mans to achieve an emotional home victory in Fuji.
Saturday’s race will be followed by the WEC rookie test on Sunday when LMP2 driver Pipo Derani, a 23-year-old from Sao Paulo in Brazil, will drive the TS050 Hybrid.