Mike Conway is in high spirits ahead of the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain, where the Brit is firmly in the fight to be crowned World Champion.
Entering the 8 Hours of Bahrain, the three-man #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing TS050 HYBRID crew of Mike, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López trail the sister #8 TOYOTA by seven points after leading the championship for much of the season.
After claiming three victories at Silverstone, Bahrain and Spa-Francorchamps earlier in the season alongside two third-place finishes and a second-place, the trio led the championship by 12 points heading into the revered 24 Hours of Le Mans last month.
Forced to settle for third place at Le Mans after a mechanical issue derailed their race and dropped them behind the #8 crew in the standings, the team look ahead to Bahrain with victory in mind.
With just the two TOYOTA GAZOO Racing machines on the LMP1 entry list, the #7 team trail their counterparts in the championship for the first time this season and will make use of a favourable success handicap compared to the #8 car. Victory in the race on Saturday will leapfrog them back ahead and grant them the championship.
Taking the win at the Bahrain event last year, Mike and the team are confident they can repeat their success and add another victory to their impressive tally in the 2019-20 season and claim the LMP1 Drivers’ crown.
Added to the schedule to replace the 1000 Miles of Sebring, lost due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bahrain International Circuit was also the scene of Mike’s maiden WEC victory in 2014 and has often proved a happy hunting ground for the British driver.
The race will also mark the end of an era as the TS050 HYBRID, which Mike has driven since its debut in 2016, will be retired in the planned phase-out of the LMP1 category ahead of the introduction of the Le Mans Hypercar specification for 2021.
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “On our car we had two targets going into this season; win Le Mans and become World Champions, so the target is pretty clear in Bahrain. For once the success handicap is slightly in our favour but we know that the #8 guys will not make our lives easy; we will have to be on top of our game to win it. We've already won in Bahrain this season so I hope we can finish the season with another one; that would be the perfect farewell for the TS050 HYBRID.”
The weekend begins with Free Practice 1 at 17:30 local time on Thursday afternoon, followed with two further practice sessions at 09:00 and 13:45 on Friday. Qualifying for LMP1 and LMP2 begins at 18:30 on Friday evening with the eight hour race scheduled to go green at 14:00 local time on Saturday afternoon.
Image courtesy of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing.