A dominant race win for the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing team of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez secured the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Drivers Championship for the trio, the Bahrain 8 Hours their fourth of what was eventually a mammoth 443 day season thanks to the intervention of the COVID-19 pandemic. The GTE Pro race was won by the outgoing GT World Champions, Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19, their second win of the season, and heading up a Porsche 1,2 with the #71 AF Corse Ferrari completing the podium.
A conservative run to fifth from the #95 ‘Dane Train’ Aston Martin pair of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim securing the pair their first WEC GT Drivers Championship win (after 2016, but their first official WEC GT Drivers World Championship on a day when all four Aston Martins needed brake pad changes – see the GTE AM summary for how badly that affected things.
The LMP2 title was already settled before this weekend in four of United Autosports, but the Yorkshire team’s run of wins ended here after a race of pace punctuated by mini-dramas. The class win came down to a last gasp battle between the two Jota-run, Goodyear-shod Orecas with Antonio Felix da Costa in the Jota #38 fending off Gabriel Aubry in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing car throughout the final half-hour until the little Frenchman pulled off one of the moves of the race, up the inside of de Costa into T10 and making it stick, bringing the car home for the win by under two seconds with the #29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca completing the podium.
GTE Am saw real dramas for the race win and the title, the win going to the #56 Team Project One Porsche 911 RSR of Egidio Perfetti, Larry ten Voorde and Jörg Bergmeister. After a race of more twists and turns, lead changes and dramas than a twisty, turny, changy, dramatic thing the runners up spot went to the new Champions, and another returning pair of 2016 Champions at that, the #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Francois Perrodo, the evergreen Manu Collard and their 2019/ 20 team-mate, Factory Ferrari GT driver Nicklas Nielsen.
The win came for a squad that was welded to the bottom of the timing screen for the opening couple of hours, but conservative early tyre strategy, and in the end sustained raw pace lifted them up the order where the big points they needed were available.
That though might not have been enough to take the title had the TF Sport Aston Martin crew not been forced into a late-race brake change, that sent the crew, contesting podium positions at the time, tumbling back down the order in a field that had been compressed by a mid-race Safety Car, and out of reach of the required points tally to take a title that they looked almost certain to score for most of the race, they’ll finish the season with four race wins and a bad taste in their mouths about the manner of the final defeat.
The #88 Dempsey Proton Porsche of Jason Evans, Khaled Al Qubaisi and Marco Holzer completed the podium.
Pic copyright Toyota Gazoo Racing
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