WEC: Toyota celebrate double victory as drivers Davidson and Buemi are crowned World Champions
Sakhir, Sat Nov 15th 2014 – Toyota celebrated both success in the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship and winning the 6 Hours of Bahrain race today. After a difficult race that saw the no8 Toyota TS040 spend 16 laps in the garage to change an alternator, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi took the chequered flag in 11th overall to clinch the FIA World Endurance Driver’s Championship. The sister crew of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway claimed their first race win of the 2014 season after a flawless performance in the day/night spectacular in the desert.
Filling out the podium at Bahrain were both Porsche 919 Hybrid entries with the no14 car of Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas just heading home the no20 entry of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.
Anthony Davidson: “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. It wasn’t exactly the way we wanted to win the title but I’m not complaining. Big thanks to the mechanics today for getting the car out on track again, not only the #8 guys but also the crew from #7 who helped out. This championship has been a real team effort and I’m so grateful to everyone who has made it happen. It’s a great day but there is still one more job to do in Brazil; win the manufacturers’ World Championship.”
Sébastien Buemi: “I am really pleased; it’s a great feeling to win the World Championship. It’s not the way we wanted to get it but we are really happy. To win a championship when you are competing against Porsche and Audi is a fantastic achievement. We had the car to win the race but I’m happy #7 won. Thanks to the team because to win a championship you need a great car and that’s what they gave us. Even if it is the drivers’ World Championship, it is really a title for the team because without everyone here at the track, back at Cologne and in Higashifuji, Anthony and I would not be here today. If we can make sure we win the manufacturers’ championship in Brazil it will be a fantastic year.”
Starting from pole, the no14 Porsche kept Sebastien Buemi at bay for several laps before losing out as the Toyota swept into the lead. However the pace of the two 919s were to be reckoned with throughout the race, with both cars leading during the 6 Hours of Bahrain. The German team were rewarded with their best result of the 2014 season.
The two Audi R18 e-tron quattros were 4th and 5th, with the no2 Audi of Fassler / Lotterer/ Treluyer finished one lap behind the winning Toyota and one lap ahead of the no1 R18 of Kristensen/ Di Grassi / Duval. The 22 championship points has kept Audi’s slim world championship hopes alive for the final race in Brazil in two week’s time.
The no13 Rebellion car of Dominik Kraihamer, Fabio Leimer and Andrea Belicchi won the LMP1-L class after a late race pit stop for race long leaders Nick Heidfeld/Nicolas Prost/Mathias Beche in the no12 Rebellion entry who had to pit near the end of the race to replace an alternator belt and battery. The no9 Lotus CLM-AER suffered a gearbox failure on the opening lap and Pierre Kaffer pulled off the track into retirement.
The LMP2 class saw the usual thrilling race long battle, this time between the no47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan and the title chasing no27 SMP Racing entry. KCMG’s Matt Howson/Richard Bradley and Alexander Imperatori eventually won out, taking their second victory of the season (after COTA), with a well-judged maneuver by Bradley in the fourth hour, sealing the win. The Hong Kong based team had to make a precautionary late pitstop to replace the nose of the Oreca due to a faulty headlight assembly but they came out of the pits still at the head of the LMP2 field.
Late race drama saw Nicolas Minassian serve a stop/go penalty for contact with the no1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro and then technical difficulties with just 15-mins to go forced the car into the pits and retirement. The sister no37 SMP Oreca-Nissan inherited second place in the final moments.
As a result of the no27 SMP cars difficulties Zlobin’s points lead in the LMP2 Drivers’ championship has been overturned by the G-Drive Ligier-Nissan of Olivier Pla/Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal, who score third placed points despite having losing over ten minutes after two lengthy pit stops for repairs to their rear suspension after a collision with their rivals on the opening lap. The Russian team now head to Brazil with a slim 8 point lead in FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers and Teams.
The final race of the 2014 season will take place in Brazil with the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo taking place on the 30 November. Toyota have a 40 point lead in the FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship over nearest rivals Audi, but with a possible 44 points available in Brazil the title fight is not yet over.
Both the LMP2 titles are still to be decided with G-Drive Racing and drivers Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla and Julien Canal on 136 points against the no27 SMP Racing Oreca and driver Sergey Zlobin on 128 points. With a maximum of 26 points on offer in Brazil there is all to play for.