TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will start the 8 Hours of Bahrain from the second row after a close qualifying for the fourth round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season.
World Championship leaders Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, in the #8 TS050 HYBRID, will start Saturday’s race from third on the grid after setting an average time 0.518secs slower than the pole position #1 Rebellion.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 TS050 HYBRID completed an all-TOYOTA second row in fourth, a further 0.345secs behind following a very tight session which saw all five LMP1 cars finish within a second of each other.
As expected, qualifying was not easy for the two TS050 HYBRIDs as they battled against heavy success handicap, which reduces hybrid and fuel energy allocations per lap. Brendon’s fastest lap of the session, 1min 42.986secs, was 3.902 slower than the pole position time for WEC’s last visit to Bahrain in 2017.
Mike and Brendon were at the wheel of the #7 and #8 respectively for the first flying laps of the session, on new Michelin tyres. They waited in the pits for a gap in the traffic and took advantage of the clear air on a warm, dry Bahrain evening.
Both car crews fought to get the best possible starting slot but put the priority on race performance, choosing not to fit new tyres for the second flying laps in order to save a set for Saturday’s eight-hour contest. José took over the #7 and was set for a quick lap until losing time at turn eight, leaving Kazuki to earn third place for the #8.