Toyota enjoyed its most memorable race in the FIA World Endurance Championship to date at the 6 Hours of Bahrain today as Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi were crowned drivers’ champions with one race remaining.
An alternator failure meant that the title-chasing duo in the #8 car lost a great deal of time in the pits after fighting at the front early on, and could only finish down in 11th position, some 18 laps down on the race winning #7 runner.
However, with the #2 Audi of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler only coming home in fourth place, Davidson and Buemi head into the final race of the season with an unassailable lead.
Behind the wheel of the #7 car, Alexander Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway controlled the race at the front, leading from the second hour to claim its first win of the season. For Conway, this marked his first LMP1 victory in the World Endurance Championship.
Porsche enjoyed its best outing of the season to put pressure on Toyota towards the end of the race, finishing in second and third place to complete the podium. The #14 of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb came home 50 seconds behind the winning car, with Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley a further seven seconds down the road after letting the sister car past in the final stages of the race.
After a difficult week in Bahrain, the Audi cars finished the race in fourth and fifth place, marking the handing over of the mantle in the WEC to Toyota. The #13 Rebellion Racing car crossed the line sixth overall, winning the LMP1-L class.
In LMP2, the #47 KCMG car took the top honors with Matthew Howson, Richard Bradley and Alexandre Imperatori enjoying a three lap lead over SMP Racing’s #37 car at the flag. However, late drama for the #27 SMP car saw second-placed Nicolas Minassian come into the pits in the final hour with smoke spewing from the rear of his car, spilling oil on the track.
Minassian was cruelly forced to retire just 15 minutes short of the finish, causing teammate Sergey Zlobin to lose the lead in the LMP2 drivers’ standings. This is the only drivers’ title that was not decided in Bahrain.
In the GTE Pro class, fans were treated to yet another incredible scrap between AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing that eventually saw the #51 Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander win by 1.8 seconds from AMR’s #97 driven by Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke. As a result, the #51 drivers have also clinched their respective championship and the teams’ title, with Davide Rigon and James Calado completing the GTE Pro podium for AF Corse.
There was some solace for Aston Martin, though, as Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier-Hansson won the GTE Am title. Third driver Nicki Thiim kept up his 100% win record in the #95 car as the Danish trio finished one lap ahead AF Corse’s #81 car.
The final race of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place on November 30th at Interlagos, Brazil.