TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s three-time Le Mans-winning TS050 HYBRID will compete for the final time this weekend, when the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season concludes with the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
Since its debut in 2016, the TS050 HYBRID has a record of 33 WEC races, 18 wins, 15 pole positions and 14 fastest laps, as well as recording the fastest-ever lap of Le Mans. It also helped TOYOTA GAZOO Racing win the World Championship in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020.
Following this week’s Bahrain race, the TS050 HYBRIDs will head into retirement, to be replaced by a new car for the 2021 season, designed according to the new Hypercar regulations and based on the GR Super Sport road car currently in development.
“There will be mixed emotions in Bahrain,” commented Brendon Hartley. “It will mark the end of the LMP1 era which I have loved so much, but on the flip side we are all excited about the Hypercar future.
“It’s the second race of the season in Bahrain so we all know it very well; I hope it’s a close fight between the two TS050 HYBRIDs. Although we head there as World Championship leaders in the #8 car, the points are so close that whichever car wins will be crowned champion so I am looking forward to it.”
The final race of the TS050 HYBRID will be a showdown for the drivers’ World Championship crown. The #8 car of reigning champions Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, alongside Brendon Hartley, lead the standings by seven points after their victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 TS050 HYBRID, are behind in the title race for the first time this season following their misfortune at Le Mans, but they will compete at Bahrain with a favourable success handicap.
Success handicaps were introduced this season to promote closer competition in LMP1 by imposing lap time penalties based on the championship standings for all races excluding Le Mans. Although the TS050 HYBRIDs are the only LMP1 competitors this week, as the system relates to individual cars, the team supports the continuation of success handicaps in Bahrain, in the interests of fairness to each driver crew.
For only the second time this season the #8 crew has a success handicap disadvantage compared to the #7 drivers. In the previous six WEC races, the #7 car has been at a relative disadvantage to the #8 crew on three occasions, impacting on their results.
Mike, Kamui and José have already won once this season in Bahrain, heading a TOYOTA GAZOO Racing one-two back in December 2019, while the team is looking for its third consecutive win in the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Both crews will use the high-downforce specification TS050 HYBRID in Bahrain, reverting to the configuration last used in Austin back in February.
A compressed timetable sees a single practice session on Thursday evening before a busy Friday, which includes two practice sessions and qualifying. The eight-hour race, which takes place behind closed doors following the example of earlier events at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, begins at 2pm local time on Saturday and will end in darkness.