Toyota wins Six Hours of Bahrain; Davidson, Buemi crowned FIA WEC champions

BY John Dagys • November 15, 2014

 

Toyota claimed its fifth victory of the season, while Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi clinched the 2014 FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship following an action-packed Six Hours of Bahrain.

Alex Wurz brought the No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid to the win Saturday evening, edging out the pair of Porsche 919 Hybrids, which had its strongest race to date with its first double-podium finish of the season.

Wurz and co-drivers Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway led from the second hour, following alternator problems for the sister No. 8 car of Davidson and Buemi, which lost more than 30 minutes in the garage.

However, with their 11th-place finish overall, and championship-contending No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler finishing fourth, it sealed up the drivers’ title one race early.

Despite another win for Toyota, the Manufacturer’s World Championship will come down to the wire at the season-ender in Sao Paulo in two weeks’ time, with the Japanese automaker holding a 40-point lead over Audi.

While Sarrazin claimed back-to-back wins in Bahrain, it marked Conway’s first for Toyota in only his second race start. Along with Wurz, it was all three drivers first wins of the season.

The No. 14 Porsche of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb finished second, with Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard coming home third.

Webber gambled on double-stinting tires during his final stop in a bid to overhaul the race-leading No. 7 Toyota, but faded the in the late stages, which saw Jani get around the F1 ace with 20 minutes to go.

The pair of Audis completed the top five following an uneventful race for the turbo diesels, following three tub changes over the week that had the mechanics working overtime.

LMP1-L class honors went to the No. 13 Rebellion R-One Toyota of Fabio Leimer Andrea Belicchi and Dominik Kraihamer for the second time this season.

KCMG, meanwhile, collected its second win of the year in LMP2, which has seen a significant shakeup in the title race following problems for both of the title contenders.

Richard Bradley took the No. 47 Oreca 03R-Nissan to a hefty three-lap win over the second-placed No. 37 SMP Racing Oreca-Nissan of Kirill Ladygin, Aton Ladygin and Viktor Shaitar after late-race mechanical issues hit the championship-leading sister car.

After running second, Nic Minassian brought a smoking No. 27 SMP entry into the pits with less than 15 minutes to go with suspected gearbox issues. The car did not return and cost Minassian’s co-driver, Sergey Zlobin, the lead of the championship.

While finishing fourth in class but earning third-place points, G-Drive Racing’s Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal take over the points lead, with an 8-point margin over Zlobin heading into Brazil.

The OAK-run G-Drive squad had a challenging day with two wishbone failures on its Ligier JS P2 Nissan, the first caused by contact with the No. 37 SMP Oreca-Nissan on the opening lap.

The partial-season OAK Morgan-Judd entry of David Cheng, Mark Patterson and Keiko Ihara completed the podium in third.

KCMG’s Bradley, meanwhile, shared class honors with Matthew Howson and Alexandre Imperatori, marking the Swiss driver’s first of the season.

Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander clinched the GT Drivers’ World Cup with a GTE-Pro class win.

Vilander held off a hard-charging Darren Turner to give he, Bruni and AF Corse their fourth class victory of the season, following one of the most competitive battles in the production-based ranks this season.

Cars from Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche all led at stages throughout the day-into-night enduro, with the pair of F458 Italias making one less stop than the competition.

Vilander edged out Turner by just 1.879 seconds at the line, after the pole-sitting No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE recovered more than 15 seconds in the final 30 minutes.

It marked Bruni’s second consecutive drivers’ title and the first for his longtime co-driver, Vilander.

Ferrari, meanwhile, extended their lead in the GT Manufacturers’ Cup with a double podium finish, as James Calado and Davide Rigon finished third in the No. 71 entry.

Its title battle with Porsche will go down to the wire in Brazil, with 25 points now separating the two manufacturers.

The pair of Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSRs completed the top-five in class on Saturday, with the No. 91 car of Joerg Bergemeister and Richard Lietz finishing one lap ahead of the Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet-driven No. 92 entry.

Aston Martin Racing’s David Heinemeier Hansson and Kristian Poulsen locked up the GTE-Am Drivers’ title with the a class win alongside Nicki Thiim.

The trio claimed their fourth class victory of the season in a race that went the way of the “Dane Train” in dominant fashion yet again.

Heinemeier Hansson took the No. 95 Young Driver AMR-backed entry across the line one lap ahead of the No. 81 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia of Michele Rugolo for the win, despite making a driver change on the final stop to give Heinemeier Hansson the needed minimum drive time.

The sister No. 98 Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy, Christoffer Nygaard and Paul Dalla Lana, the only car that remained in the title hunt heading into the weekend, finished third after losing time due to a pit lane penalty in the second hour.

The top-five was completed by the No. 88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR and No. 90 8Star Motorsports Ferrari, which rebounded from a penalty for avoidable contact with the No. 95 Aston in the fifth hour.

 


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