Published on November 17th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair0
Toyota TS050 HYBRID Wins Its Last Race at Bahrain 2020
Over the last week or so, we’ve seen not just Audi, but Toyota mark the end of an era. For Audi, they bowed out of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) in style, setting records unlikely to be beat in years. And for Toyota, this weekend saw the final use of their Le Mans winning TS050 HYBRID with a final go at the 8 Hours of Bahrain. Just as they did last year, Toyota Gazoo Racing had a great run at Bahrain.
While Toyota had been participating at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2012, the TS050 Hybrid only debuted in 2016, succeeding the TS040 that was used from 2014. Toyota entered the LMP1 category of the World Endurance Championship in 2012 with the TS030, this race in Bahrain marks the company’s departure.
Here’s a full race report on how the two factory cars performed at their final race.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López won the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) title with victory in the eighth and final race of the season as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing said goodbye to its three-time Le Mans-winning TS050 HYBRID with a one-two in the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
The #7 TS050 HYBRID crew overturned a points deficit in the season finale to win from pole position, finally earning a well-deserved major title after suffering heartbreak in the Le Mans 24 Hours in the last two editions.
Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, the outgoing World Champions, alongside Brendon Hartley in the #8 TS050 HYBRID delivered a perfect result for the team, earning second place, 64.594secs behind.
Today’s race brought the curtain down on the LMP1 era in endurance racing, in which Toyota has participated since 2012. In its 64 races, the team has won 29 races, earned 26 pole positions and set 24 fastest laps, winning both the teams’ and drivers’ World Championship in three of its eight seasons.
During that period, fuel consumption has been reduced by 35% while lap times at Le Mans improved by around 10 seconds per lap, with the team’s final LMP1 car, the TS050 HYBRID, writing a new page in endurance history by setting the fastest-ever lap around the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe.
Since its 2016 debut, the TS050 HYBRID has been raced by 11 different drivers in 34 races, winning Le Mans three times as part of 19 WEC victories, earning 16 pole positions and setting 15 fastest laps in the process.
The final WEC race of the season was a straight fight between the two TS050 HYBRIDs for victory and the world title, with car #7 holding a theoretical 0.54secs success handicap advantage over the #8 car as a result of the standings going into this event.
Mike started from pole position and established a lead which Kamui and José would extend consistently throughout the next eight hours. Fighting against their success handicap was a difficult challenge for the #8 crew despite a valiant effort, first from race starter Sébastien, then Brendon and Kazuki.
The gap expanded to 75 seconds soon after the half distance mark, when it was all but eliminated by a safety car for debris in the entrance to the pit lane. First Kazuki, then Sébastien, put the pressure on the #7 car’s lead but José, and soon after Mike, held their nerve and rebuilt the lead.
Going into the final quarter of the race, the lead was around 30secs, leaving no margin for error for the #7 car.But they rose to the challenge and established a one-minute lead in the final hour, with Kamui crossing the line to win after 263 laps, taking the World Championship title in the process. Kazuki was at the wheel of the #8 as it finished second in the race and in the standings, five points behind.
While the desert dust is settling on the 2019-2020 season, preparations for the six-race 2021 campaign are already under way with endurance tests for the team’s new Hypercar planned in the coming months, prior to its race debut in the 1000 Miles of Sebring on 19 March.