Photo: Jean Michel Le Meur/DPPI
Toyota held the first two spots on the grid and retained these positions at race-start. Rebellion retired with a fiery engine failure 90 min in, with the No. 7 Toyota driven by Alexander Wurz coming to halt at pit exit with mechanical problems of its own 30 min later.
The #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca driven by Mike Conway took the LMP2 lead 4 hr and 34 min. into the race. Pecom Racing’s #49 left the circuit and hit a barrier entering the final corner a short time later, following a suspected right-front brake failure.
Anthony Davidson was piloting the race-leading Toyota at the time, one lap up on Andre Lotterer in the #1 Audi. Sebatian Buemi took over for Davidson at the 4:41 mark. Buemi and Toyota retained a more than 1 min lead over the #1 Audi following the driver-change. The #49 remained in the pits, slipping to sixth in LMP2 and rejoining at 4:47. The #24 OAK Racing Morgan passed the Greaves Motorsport Zytek #41 to take second shortly thereafter.
The #49 returned to the garage at 4:53, while Conway in the #26 was given a warning for avoidable contact with another vehicle. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari led GTE Pro and the #95 Aston Martin Racing GTE Am. With 1 hr left the #91 Porsche pitted from second in GTE Pro, Jorg Bergmeister taking over behind the wheel.
The 8 Star Ferrari #81 pitted from second in GTE Am with 57 min left, leading the class’ season points race. The #99 works Aston Martin retired from GTE Am competition with 50 min left after pitting from third in class. Lotterer came in from overall second for his final scheduled pit stop with just under 45 min left, with Conway pitting from the lead in LMP2.
In the end, the #8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid (Davidson, Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin) took the checkered flag, 1 min 10.585 sec ahead of the #1 Audi e-tron Quattro Hybrid (Lotterer, Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer). “It was fantastic to end up on the top step of the podium,” remarked Davidson afterwards. “I am so happy for the team to get our first proper victory of the year. Obviously the #7 won in Fuji but the conditions were unusual that day with the rain. Today’s result is completely justified after what happened in Shanghai when we were leading comfortably but had to retire due to a technical problem. We had the speed all weekend here and it’s great to finally win my first race for Toyota Racing.”
The LMP2 podium had #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan (Conway, Roman Rusinov, John Martin) on top, followed by #24 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan (Olivier Pla, Alex Brundle, David Heinemeier-Hansson) and #41 Greaves Racing Zytec-Nissan (Wolfgang Reip, Bjorn Wirdheim, Jon Lancaster).
GTE Pro finished #51 AF Corse Ferrari (Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander), #91 Porsche AG Team Manthey (Bergmeister, Patrick Pilet), and #71 AF Corse Ferrari (Giancarlo Fisichella, Kamui Kobayashi). The #95 Aston Martin won GTE Am, followed by #81 Ferrari and #61 Ferrari.
The #35 OAK Racing won the LMP2 teams’ trophy, with Bertrand Baguette, Ricardo Gonzalez, and Martin Plowman nabbing the drivers’ championship. Ferrari won the GTE manufacturers’ championship, with Gianmaria Bruni taking the GT drivers’ crown. AF Corse Ferrari won the GTE Pro title, with Stuart Hall and Jamie Cambell-Walter taking the GTE Am drivers’ crown (#96 Aston Martin Vantage V8).
Audi had secured the LMP1 championships prior the Bahrain round. Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport, acknowledged the TS030’s faster pace on the weekend. “We can be very pleased with the season,” he said. “We won the World Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours and showed superb races. That it wasn’t enough today was a bit of a shame. But Toyota was simply stronger here. Unfortunately, a R18 e-tron quattro retired with a technical defect for the first time in its last race of all races. But this only shows how reliable our cars have always been up to now.”