TOYOTA GAZOO Racing ends season with 1-2 victory in Bahrain as Nakajima signs off in style

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team, partnered by Acronis, brought down the curtain on a historic first Hypercar season with a one-two victory in the 8 Hours of Bahrain.

That the #7 GR010 HYBRID of Le Mans winners Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López retained the drivers’ title by finishing Saturday’s race in second place played somewhat second fiddle on Saturday – Kazuki Nakajima ending his glittering endurance career with victory in the #8 GR010 HYBRID alongside teammates Sébastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.

It means that the popular Nakajima becomes Japan’s first two-time World Champion on four wheels, whilst teammate López becomes only the second Argentinian to win five FIA World Championships, following in the footsteps of the great Juan Manuel Fangio.

“I am very happy to finish my WEC career like this and I am very lucky to have such great team-mates,” commented Nakajima after his emotional finale. “As a team we fight very hard until the end and we never give up. In the final laps it was difficult to keep my emotions under control and focus on driving. But I managed to get to the chequered flag and it was a fantastic result; we won the race, #7 won the championship and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing won the teams’ title.

“I am really happy and touched by the reaction. Big, big thanks to all my team-mates, everyone in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and all those who supported me over the last years.”

The 1-2 victory for the dominant TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team also means becomes the first manufacturer to win every race in a WEC season and extends its unprecedented winning run to nine on the bounce.

“Kamui, Mike, José, Kazuki, Séb, Brendon and everyone in the team. I didn’t say it last week, but first of all, congratulations on the team championship! We won all six races in the first year of Hypercar,” commented Akio Toyoda, Team Founder.

“I think that the GR010 HYBRID was never a “car that can be driven with peace of mind” or a “car that seems easy to drive” for the driver. The car which did not win the race continued to run with some trouble.

“At Le Mans, we had similar trouble that occurred in the previous race. We could not fix the problem in time, however, we were able to run through with the tremendous efforts of the drivers and team. I am really grateful that these two cars have become champion cars. Thanks guys.”

And to the victors, the spoils. Despite playing second fiddle to Nakajima’s fitting swansong, it was the #7 GR010 HYBRID that retained the drivers’ title.

“Kamui, Mike and José. Congratulations on winning Le Mans! Congratulations on the Drivers’ Championship,” added Toyoda. “I couldn’t say both before, so I am relieved to say it now. It is very nice!”

 

WHAT THE OTHER DRIVERS SAID:

Sébastien Buemi (GR010 HYBRID #8): “I am happy with this result to end the season. To celebrate a win with Kazuki in his last WEC race is very special and he deserves this moment. We did everything we could today. Our set-up was much kinder on the tyres compared to the first Bahrain race and we managed to save some energy to open up some possibilities on strategy. Then we had good pace and were just a little bit faster. Congratulations to car #7 for the title. They did a better job this year and are deserving champions.”

Brendon Hartley (GR010 HYBRID #8): “It felt good to win the race today, particularly after a tough race here last week. We came back much stronger this week. I want to say massive congratulations to Mike, Kamui and José for winning the drivers’ championship. It was hard fought all season between the two cars and they just came out on top. Also big congratulations to Kazuki for finishing his WEC career with a win and for everything he has achieved. I am sad that it is his last race for us but I’m so pleased for him to finish on a high, having been on such strong form these last two weeks.”

Mike Conway (GR010 HYBRID #7): “It feels really good to join the club of double World Champions. To win the title two times in a row is an amazing feeling, and finally getting Le Mans this year really does top off the season. I’m proud to achieve this with Kamui and José who have done an amazing job all year, just like everyone on our crew. We were pushed as hard as ever by car #8 so well done to them today. It’s always a pleasure to race with them and it’s going to be strange not to have Kazuki behind the wheel of that car. It’s been great fun working with him.”

Kamui Kobayashi (GR010 HYBRID #7): “I am really happy with this result. It’s hard to compare the two World Championship wins but it feels great to win again with Mike and José. Thanks to everyone who helped us achieve this, particularly the big support we get from Japan. Car #8 did a great job this year and were always very difficult to beat. It has been a really close competition, but very fair. We respect each other and fight properly. Behind the scenes there is a lot of good team work to maximise the team performance. Kazuki did a brilliant job here in Bahrain; he stayed motivated and concentrated. I grew up with him in racing I am very happy he finished his WEC career with a win.”

José María López (GR010 HYBRID #7): “I want to congratulate the whole team, car #8 and everyone back in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne where there are many people working behind the scenes. I couldn’t do this without them, and without Mike and Kamui. I honestly feel very humble because I am so lucky to be part of this group and achieve championships and wins together. It’s a great privilege so thank you everyone who has been involved. We’re going to miss Kazuki a lot; he is such a great guy and a fantastic driver. Séb, Kazuki and Brendon have been so competitive this season and they pushed us hard. They deserved the win today.”

Acronis are proud to be the official Cyber Protection Partner of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team. To find out more, please visit https://www.acronis.com/en-us/lp/msp-sports/

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