Bahrain win "important step" in #7 Toyota crew's WEC title bid

The #7 Toyota crew made an “important step“ towards winning the drivers’ title with a third successive FIA World Endurance Championship victory in Bahrain, according to Jose Maria Lopez.

Lopez, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi cruised to a 50-second victory in the penultimate round of the season last weekend, having managed their tyres in the sweltering sun and avoided the pitstop issues that plagued the sister #8 GR010 Hybrid of Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.

The result gives the trio a healthy 15-point lead in the championship heading into this weekend’s final race, which also takes place in Bahrain, and the chance to complete the Le Mans/title double for the first time in the WEC.

With bonus points on offer in Bahrain, Lopez admits that the championship is far from decided, but does believe that he and his teammates are now in a strong position to add to their 2019/20 title glory.

“Starting with the stint, we were a bit penalised with the full course yellow, just by a few seconds,” he said after the race.

“[From there on] it was all about tyre management. We didn't really know [how long they would last] with that kind of temperature. So far we were doing just 15 laps in a row in practice. 

“In my stint in the beginning I managed [the tyres] a bit too much but that helped me definitely for the second stint when I could pull out again a gap and give it to Kamui after which he kept pulling out. So it was a smooth race, no mistakes from the team.

"I am very happy with the victory, it's very important for the team and individually as well for the drivers championship, it gives us a good lead. Still a long way to go, eight hours, but it's a very important result for us.”

Podium: Race winner #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Podium: Race winner #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR010 - Hybrid: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photo by: Toyota Racing

The two Toyotas swapped positions a number of times during the opening third of the race before the #7 car established itself as the clear leader, securing a third consecutive victory in the Gulf nation after their double success in the 2019/20 season.

While the #8 crew did lose 17 seconds due to a slow pitstop, it was tyre management that made the difference over the course of six hours, as ambient temperatures peaked well over 30C during the daytime race - a departure from the usual twilight schedule that will return for this weekend’s finale.

Conway said he wasn’t sure how long the tyres would last going into the race and believes he and his teammates Kobayashi and Lopez would “have to work hard” to convert their points lead into a title win.

“There were a lot of unknowns [going into the race]. We had never taken a set of tyres that far into [a stint] in practice," said the Briton.

“It was just a case of managing it from the start and it seemed to work out pretty good. Towards the second stint we seemed to really have the advantage.

“But great job by all the crew, my teammates Jose and Kamui, solid job all day and it's good to get the win, for the team championship also, and extend our lead as well. But still all to play for next weekend, so we still have to work hard to clinch it next weekend.”

The WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain will be streamed live on Motorsport.tvClick here for more information

shares
comments

Related video

WRT transformed car after "shocking" pace in Bahrain practice
Previous article

WRT transformed car after "shocking" pace in Bahrain practice

Next article

Keating sticks with TF Sport Aston for 2022 WEC season

Keating sticks with TF Sport Aston for 2022 WEC season
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Prime

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive FIA World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Motorsport.com recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Prime

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained.

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Prime

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out.

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021