Toyota closed out the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship season with victory in Bahrain.
The final round of the year saw Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi take their first victory of 2013 in the #8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid, while their team-mates had a much less successful outing.
Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima led the first hour of the race in the #7 Toyota before an oil leak led to an engine problem with Wurz at the wheel, resulting in retirement for the #7 machine.
The two Toyotas started the race from the front row, spending the first hour of the race pulling out a sizeable margin on the chasing pack. After an hour of the race, Lapierre was caught up in traffic, allowing Buemi to close the gap and take the lead from his team-mate. The two TS030s then ran line astern until making pit stops, handing the cars over to Wurz and Sarrazin respectively.
Formation flying continued until the two hour mark, when Wurz’s race came to an abrupt end, the engine problem hitting just as he crossed the line to start the car’s 65th lap.
“Obviously it is disappointing to end the season like that,” said Wurz. “During my stint I looked after my tyres well and it was a nice fight for the lead; I was catching Stéphane. Everything felt good but then I heard a noise, smelt oil and then had no drive. I pulled to the side of the track and it was game over. I am sorry for the team because we did a good job this weekend.”
The retirement of the #7 car gave the #8 a firm hold on the race, meaning all the trio needed to do was drive a controlled race and bring the car home for their first win of the year, taking the victory by over a minute.
“It was fantastic to end up on the top step of the podium,” said an ecstatic Davidson. “I am so happy for the team to get our first proper victory of the year. Obviously the #7 won in Fuji but the conditions were unusual that day with the rain. Today’s result is completely justified after what happened in Shanghai when we were leading comfortably but had to retire due to a technical problem. We had the speed all weekend here and it’s great to finally win my first race for Toyota Racing.”
Following the victory, the drivers of the #8 secured third in the overall World Drivers’ Championship, while Wurz and Lapierre, who only raced in six of the eight races, took fourth in the standings. Toyota also secured second in the Manufacturers’ Championship, scoring two wins, six podiums and three pole positions throughout the year.
“This victory has a special meaning for us because this it is the last race of the season and we won,” explained Team President Yoshiaki Kinoshita. “Our win was not down to luck; our performance was better than our competitors so from this point of view I am very happy. Also we could show our real performance to the wider world; something that hasn’t necessarily been reflected in the results in the last few races. I would like to thank all the team for their never-ending hard work throughout the season; it was a tough year but we have finished in a fantastic way.”