#7 Toyota lead a 1-2 in WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain in Hypercar class with the #8 securing the drivers’ title in a two-way fight.
Toyota Gazoo Racing took a conclusive 1-2 finish in the BAPCO 8 Hours of Bahrain, with the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez winning the race from the No. 8 car. But it was Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa that took the FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ title by finishing second and making it four consecutive titles for the Japanese manufacturer in the WEC.
While Hartley and Buemi won their 3rd titles, with the Kiwi becoming first driver to win championships with two marques after his successes with Porsche, Hirakawa won the title in his debut WEC season The No. 8 crew began the race from pole one point ahead in the standings over the No.36 Alpine A480 Gibson of Andre Negrao, Nico Lapierre, and Matthieu Vaxiviere.
Toyota switched the positions of their cars as the No.7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid then driven by Mike Conway seemed to have quicker overall pace. Kamui Kobayashi extend the gap to the No.8 car during his stints at the wheel and it was Jose Maria Lopez who took the chequered flag 45-seconds ahead of their stablemates.
Alpine ELF Team entered the race just a point behind the No.8 Toyota crew but despite running third it didn’t have the pace to worry the Toyotas on the track and ended the race two laps adrift in third position. The French manufacturer was undertaking its final race in the Hypercar class until the 2024 season.
The two Peugeot TotalEnergies Peugeot 9X8s entries showed strong pace throughout the Bahrain weekend but ultimately were unable to sustain a challenge at the front. The No.94 entry of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes and Nico Mueller took fourth place, while the sister car of Jean-Eric Vergne, Mikkel Jensen and Paul di Resta was forced to retire after several track stoppages due to a suspected electronic issue in the gearbox.
Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast raced to Team WRT’s second consecutive WEC victory, while the No.38 JOTA trio of Antonio Felix da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Will Stevens took a memorable LMP2 title. The No. 31 Oreca 07 Gibson claimed the lead midway through the third hour when Rast put a move on the then leading No. 22 United Autosports Oreca driven by Phil Hanson.
Hanson’s teammate Filipe Albuquerque had dominated the race from the start, passing the pole-sitting Realteam by WRT car of Ferdinand Habsburg on the opening lap. But it came at a slight cost as the Portuguese racer was adjudged to have taken the lead by abusing track limits. WRT consolidated their lead when Rast and then Frijns extended it to control the ultra-competitive class.
While the No.22 United Autosports USA car faded, the sister No. 23 car of Alex Lynn, Oliver Jarvis and Josh Pierson took second position after a fine race. Da Costa, Gonzalez and Stevens completed the podium in the No. 38 JOTA Oreca, which was enough for the trio to capture the points needed to clinch the LMP2 title. It meant they added the crown to their 24 Hours of Le Mans victory they earned in June.
The LMP2 Pro/Am winners and 2022 champions were confirmed as Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera in the No.83 AF Corse Ferrari. They had a late race scare with a splash-and-dash fuel stop but it wasn’t enough to derail their success.
Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado and Ferrari scooped the GT FIA World Endurance Drivers’ and Manufacturers titles in a nail-biting manner at Bahrain International Circuit today. The pair were forced to nurse their Ferrari 488 GTE Evo car to the chequered flag after developing a gearbox problem in the seventh hour of the eight hour race.
While they celebrated the championship, Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina won the final ever GTE-Pro race, their first of 2022. The No. 52 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo of Molina and Fuoco finished ahead of the No. 64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R driven by Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner, with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen rounding out the podium in the No. 92 Porsche Team GT Team run Porsche 911 RSR-19.
Estre initially took the No. 92 Porsche in to the LMGTE Pro class lead by overtaking his direct rivals at the start, before engaging in a ferocious battle with the No.52 Ferrari driven by Fuoco. The first of three Full Course Yellows shook up the order in the second hour as Fuoco, Estre and the No. 91 Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni pitted before the FCY.
This was the opposite of the No. 51 Ferrari of Calado and Corvette’s Nick Tandy pitted under the caution period itself. This ensured that Calado and Tandy gained and the pair ran first and second. At the midway phase of the race Ferrari took up a 1-2 formation with Molina allowed to pass Calado via a team order.
The race for the title then appeared to be turned on its head in the seventh hour when the gearbox problem struck for Calado. But he and Pier Guidi adapted to the issue and made it to the chequered flag to savour their title success. Corvette Racing were delighted with their second place with Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy rounding out a fine debut season in the WEC for the U.S entered squad.
Rounding out the podium was the No.92 Porsche GT Team entered Porsche 911 RSR-19 driven by Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen. They took advantage of a late pit stop by Gimmi Bruni to vault their stablemates and finish third which was good enough for second in the standings.
Ben Keating and Marco Sorensen completed an excellent season by winning the LMGTE am championship by finishing in fourth place, alongside teammate Henrique Chaves. The Aston Martin trio finished fourth in the LMGTE Am class today, which was enough for the silverware, as their closest rivals, Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard and Nicki Thiim in the NorthWest Aston Martin, finished just behind them in fifth position.
The No.46 Team Project 1 Porsche driven Matteo Cairoli, Niki Leutwiler and Mikkel Pedersen claimed their first win of the 2022 season, with Cairoli making a move on the No. 85 Iron Dames Ferrari driven by Rahel Frey with 70-minutes of the race remaining.
Frey, with Iron Dames teammates Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy led for the majority of the race from their second pole position of the season. But their chances of matching their runners-up positions in Monza and Fuji were lost when Ben Barnicoat in the No.56 Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR-19 overtook Michelle Gatting for second in the final minutes of the race.
That move ensured that Barnicoat’s new teammates for the weekend, PJ Hyett and Gunnar Jeanette, helped complete a richly merited 1-2 finish for the German squad.
Here’s full WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain results: http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/
[Note: The story is as per press release]