Toyota claimed its fifth victory of the season, while Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi clinched the 2014 FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship following an action-packed Six Hours of Bahrain.
Alex Wurz brought the No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid to the win Saturday evening, edging out the pair of Porsche 919 Hybrids, which had its strongest race to date with its first double podium finish of the season.
Wurz and co-drivers Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway led from the second hour, following alternator problems for the sister No. 8 car of Davidson and Buemi, which lost more than 30 minutes in the garage.
However, with their 11th place finish overall, and championship-contending No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler finishing fourth, it sealed up the drivers’ title one race early.
Despite another win for Toyota, the Manufacturer’s World Championship will come down to the wire at the season-ender in Sao Paulo in two weeks’ time, with the Japanese automaker holding a 40-point lead over Audi.
While Sarrazin claimed back-to-back wins in Bahrain, it marked Conway’s first for Toyota in only his second race start. Along with Wurz, it was all three drivers first wins of the season.
The No. 14 Porsche of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb finished second, with Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard coming home third.
Webber gambled on double stinting tires during his final stop in a bid to overhaul the race-leading No. 7 Toyota, but faded the in the late stages, which saw Jani get around the F1 ace with 20 minutes to go.
The pair of Audis completed the top-five following an uneventful race for the turbo diesels, following three tub changes over the week that had the mechanics working overtime.
LMP1-L class honors went to the No. 13 Rebellion R-One Toyota of Fabio Leimer Andrea Belicchi and Dominik Kraihamer for the second time this season.
The No. 13 car cruised to a three-lap win over the sister pole-sitting No. 12 R-One, which was delayed with issues.
The No. 9 Lotus CLM P1/01 AER, meanwhile, retired on the second lap with gearbox failure.
KCMG collected its second win of the year in LMP2, which has seen a significant shakeup in the title race following problems for both of the title contenders.
Richard Bradley took the No. 47 Oreca 03R-Nissan to a hefty three-lap win over the second-placed No. 37 SMP Racing Oreca-Nissan of Kirill Ladygin, Aton Ladygin and Viktor Shaitar after late-race mechanical issues hit the championship-leading sister car.
After running second, Nic Minassian brought a smoking No. 27 SMP entry into the pits with less than 15 minutes to go with suspected gearbox issues. The car did not return and cost Minassian’s co-driver, Sergey Zlobin, the lead of the championship.
While finishing fourth in class but earning third place points, G-Drive Racing’s Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal take over the points lead, with an 8-point margin over Zlobin heading into Brazil.
The OAK-run G-Drive squad had a challenging day with two wishbone failures on its Ligier JS P2 Nissan, the first caused by contact with the No. 37 SMP Oreca-Nissan on the opening lap.
The partial-season OAK Morgan-Judd entry of David Cheng, Mark Patterson and Keiko Ihara completed the podium in third.
KCMG’s Bradley, meanwhile, shared class honors with Matthew Howson and Alexandre Imperatori, marking the Swiss driver’s first of the season.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Bahrain