Normal service resumes at the top of the LMP field in Bahrain


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 Conway 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.

LMP2 – WRT’s Win and Jota’s Title

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.