Toyota eases to Bahrain WEC win after woe for rivals

Rachit Thukral
Toyota eases to Bahrain win after woe for rivals
Toyota eases to Bahrain win after woe for rivals

Toyota claimed a crushing victory in the World Endurance Championship round in Bahrain after capitalising on early woes for its LMP1 rivals Rebellion and Ginetta.

The #7 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez moved into the lead on the opening lap after Bruno Senna's Rebellion R-13 and the #5 Ginetta of Charlie Robertson collided at Turn 2.

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From there on, the #7 trio enjoyed a trouble-free run, securing their second victory of the 2019/20 season following their triumph at the Silverstone season opener in September.

The result propelled Conway, Kobayashi and Lopez into the lead of the championship, ahead of the #8 car of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley that finished a lap down in second.

Buemi was caught out in the first lap melee and dropped to the lower regions of the pack, also requiring a change of front bodywork, but recovered sufficiently to seal a 1-2 finish for Toyota.

The polesitting Rebellion of Senna, Norman Nato and Gustavo Menezes completed the podium spots after receiving a double whammy in the opening half of the race.

Senna had managed to recover from the hit he received from Robertson to run second in Hour 2, but an unscheduled visit to the garage to fix a gear selection issue left the Rebellion three laps down on the leading Toyota.

Both Ginettas retired from a race where success handicap had made them the early favourites for victory.

The #5 G60-LT-P1 of Robertson, Ben Hanley and Jordan King crawled to a halt in the fifth hour near Turn 9, while the other Ginetta driven by Guy Smith, Chris Dyson and Michael Simpson pulled into the pits in the penultimate hour.

United Autosports claimed its first victory in the LMP2 class after Paul di Resta, Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque led throughout the eight hours in the #22 Oreca.

Di Resta, Hanson and Albuquerque finished 21.5s clear of the second-placed #38 JOTA Sport Oreca of Anthony Davidson, Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzales, having at one point held a lead of nearly a minute.

The Jackie Chan DC Racing team, which is also operated by JOTA, finished third with Will Stevens, Gabriel Aubry and Ho-Pin Tung at the wheel of its #37 Oreca.

Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Job van Uitert finished fourth in the one-off TDS Racing-run G-Drive Aurus entry.

Toyota eases to Bahrain win after woe for rivals
Toyota eases to Bahrain win after woe for rivals

Aston Martin came on top in a close scrap with Ferrari to claim its second GTE Pro win of the season.

The #71 Ferrari of Miguel Molina and Davide Rigon had been leading the race prior to the final round of stops, but quicker pitwork by the Aston Martin crew catapulted the #95 Vantage of Sorensen and Thiim into the lead.

Rigon did attempt to fight back and briefly passed Sorensen into turn 11, but the Dane was able to retake the spot soon after to seal the win for Aston.

The #71 car was handed a stop/go penalty with 30 minutes to go for spinning wheels during one of its pitstops, ending any hope of victory, but it managed to hold onto second position after serving the infraction.

The sister #51 Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, which was disqualified from first in Shanghai, was asked to give the final podium back to the #97 Aston of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn after being held responsible for the contact between the two cars at Turn 1 in the final hour.

The GTE Pro battle turned out to be a two-horse race between Aston and Ferrari after Porsche's race unravelled in the fourth hour.

Both the 911 RSR-19s lost several laps in the garage for repairs, the #91 car of Gianmaria Bruno and Richard Lietz suffering a front-left puncture and Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen's sister #92 machine having to pit with a damper failure.

Porsche, however, did claim top honours in GTE Am, courtesy of the #86 Project 1 Porsche crew of Ben Keating, Larry ten Voorde and Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Second-place went to the factory #98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner, which briefly held the lead before settling for second to equal its season-best result from Silverstone.

The #86 Gulf Racing drivers Ben Barker, Michael Wainwright and Andrew Watson made it two Porsches on the podium.

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