24h Le Mans
8 Hours of Bahrain – Victory and title for the #7 Toyota's swan song
The 8 Hours of Bahrain, final round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship season, saw the #7 Toyota (Conway-Kobayashi-Lopez) win the FIA World Endurance LMP Drivers title thanks to the TS050 Hybrid competing in its very last race. The other trophies celebrated the performances of Aston Martin's drivers in LMGTE Pro and the line-up in the #83 Ferrari in LMGTE Am (Perrodo-Collard-Nielsen).
The 2020 8 Hours of Bahrain was extraordinary on many levels: Gérard Neveu and Fiona Miller are expected to leave their respective FIA World Endurance Championship positions (CEO and Media Manager) after the round, it marked the final appearance of the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, ushered in the transition from LMP1 to Hypercar (the future top class of endurance racing in 2021) and was the last race for Signatech Alpine ELF in LMP2 before moving into that class next year.
This final round of the 2019-2020 season determined several FIA WEC trophy winners. The duel in LMP1 between the two Toyota driver line-ups would decide if the TS050 Hybrid would end its career in victory and who would win the Drivers title! Six points separated the two trios going into the race, with the advantage for the #8. For its last appearance in any race, the Toyota TS50 Hybrid earned its 19th win in the FIA WEC. The car gave the Japanese marque its first win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018, and two more thereafter.
Having started from the pole, Conway-Kobayashi-López (often unlucky at the 24 Hours) claimed the top step on the Bahrain podium and secured the world title. With a comfortable lead on its sister car by mid-race, the trio saw its advantage reduced to a few seconds due to the deployment of the safety car to remove debris from the #51 Ferrari's flat tyre. But the trio managed to hold its lead through the chequered flag.
Though the LMP2 titles had been earned by the #22 of United Autosports on the heels of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in September, the eight-hour battle still raged all the way to the final minutes of the race. Only a handful of seconds separated the various contenders in the class including JOTA Sport, Jackie Chan DC Racing and Signatech Alpine Elf. In the end, the trophy went to Jackie Chan DC Racing, ending the series of four consecutive wins for the #22.
In LMGTE Pro, the drivers of the #95 Aston Martin (Thiim-Sørensen) were crowned GT world champions. Porsche pulled off a one-two with the #92 ahead of the #91.
In LMGTE Am, with a second place finish at Bahrain, the driver line-up of the #83 Ferrari (Collard-Perrodo-Nielsen) secured the Drivers title. The final win of the season was clinched by Team Project 1's #56.
For all results (race and classifications), go to the official FIA WEC website.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 season rescheduled from March finally managed its eight races (some behind closed doors) with no negative affect to the typically high level of competition.
A provisional calendar for next year's FIA WEC Season 9 has already been released, with the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans scheduled for 12-13 June.
PHOTO: The Toyota TS050 Hybrid bows out after a final win at Bahrain on 14 November.