Mike Conway earned his second win of 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season this weekend alongside his teammates in the #7 TS050 HYBRID Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, claiming a hard-fought victory in the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
Marking TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s third win of the season, the reigning World Champions did so in spite of a severe success handicap thanks to strong strategy, consistent performance and impressive reliability over the 1,390km race.
After qualifying in fourth, Mike was charged with taking the start of the race in the #7 as it lined up one place behind the team’s sister car in third. A dramatic start was to follow as the #5 Ginetta made contact with the #1 Rebellion, forcing both cars into a spin. Avoiding the debris and coming through cleanly, Mike was able to take the lead from fourth on the grid.
Managing the restart well, Mike proceeded to extend the #7 car’s lead as the first fuel stops approached. Emerging with a thirty-second lead, Mike handed the lead car to his teammate Kamui Kobayashi at the 90-minute mark.
With two and a half hours gone, the race took a twist as the #1 Rebellion which had been pushing the #7 car hard lost five minutes in the pits due to a technical problem. With the team’s #8 sister car now in second, the TOYOTA were well-placed to manage the remainder of the race effectively.
As darkness fell at the Bahrain International Circuit, and with a comfortable cushion behind, neither TS050 HYBRID took any risk over the remainder of the race which saw only three LMP1 cars last the full-race distance.
With teammate José María López first to take the chequered flag after 257 laps and claiming the #7 car’s second win of the season in the process, Mike and his teammates established an eight-point lead in the drivers’ World Championship ahead of their counterparts in the #8 sister car.
The one-two extended TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s lead in the teams’ standings to 41 points and Mike was quick to pay credit to the work of the whole team as they claimed their third one-two finish from four races.
“It is a fantastic result to get a one-two here. We pushed as hard as we could all day and got a result which we weren’t expecting at the start of the week. That is thanks to a great job by everyone; my team-mates and my team. We struggled earlier in the week but together as a team we got the car dialled in. It’s brilliant to win and it’s nice to lead the World Championship again.”
The World Championship battle will resume in the new year, returning to Austin, Texas following a two-year absence for the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas on 23 February, the first of a double-header in the United States with the 1000 Miles of Sebring following on 20 March.