The Toyota Gazoo Racing team has admitted that it lost the World Endurance Championship (WEC) titles this year despite winning five of the nine races, practically handing them over to rival Porsche.

Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon said this after the team won the 6 Hours of Bahrain finale last weekend, according to The three back-to-back victories scored by the #8 team of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson at the end of the season didn’t stop Porsche from clinching both drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles at the previous race in Shanghai.

“It’s satisfying because it was our target [to win more races than Porsche],” said Vasselon of the win. “It puts a different light on the season, because we have dominated on performance in six races out of nine and we managed to not win the championship. So basically I can say, we have lost the championship. Porsche did not really win it. But that’s life, that’s motorsport.”

Vasselon added that the turning point of the #8 team’s title chances – after winning the opening races in Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps – was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There, a hybrid system failure relegated the car to eighth place in a race that saw two other Toyotas and one Porsche retire.

“For car #8, we clearly lost it at Le Mans,” he said. “For the manufacturers’, we have made too many mistakes. We could have had two one-twos in the last two races, but we had a couple of accidents.” Vasselon was referring to the #7 car’s collisions with GTE Pro class Porsches in the Shanghai and Bahrain rounds, preventing it from finishing behind its sister car on both occasions.

Toyota has said that a development push late in the season – which enabled a flow of new aerodynamic parts starting from the Fuji round – was the reason behind its last-minute successes. The team will be the last manufacturer-backed outfit in the top class next year, after Porsche announced earlier in the year that it would pull out of the 2018/2019 championship.