Sovereign Toyota, Ferrari with a trembling world champion

( – Title decider in all sorts of ways: The 8 Hours of Bahrain ended the 2022 World Endurance Championship (WEC) with both confident and not-so-confident title decisions. In the hypercar class, the balance of power (BoP) decided in favor of Toyota. In GTE Pro, on the other hand, Ferrari’s title was full of drama. (Result 8h Bahrain 2022)

Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa and Sebastien Buemi gave Toyota their fourth consecutive world title


The race featured the hybrid Toyota GR010, which took a stunning one-two. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez took the win. Toyota switched positions after three hours as the number 7 car was faster.

Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa took home second place and are now world champions. After two world titles for #7, #8 has now struck back. For Buemi it is the third world title after 2014 and 2019, for Hartley also number three after 2015 and 2017 (both with Porsche) but the first with Toyota, for Hirakawa it is the first FIA World Championship.

Photos: WEC 2022: Bahrain 8 Hours, Race

The only significant competition came from Peugeot. But the 9X8 still showed teething problems, having to power up several times in the race and ending up in the garage several times.

Of the Peugeots, only the #94 (Duval/Menezes/Müller) finished, but both 9X8s had several problems. #93 (di Resta/Jensen/Vergne) retired with gearbox damage.

That cleared the way for the #36 Alpine (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxiviere) to finish at least third. That was more than he could do alone. The Alpine A480 was so disadvantaged in the BoP that an attack on the Toyota was out of the question.

8h Bahrain 2022: Rennhighlights

Highlights from the 8 Hours of Bahrain, the 2022 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season finale

Toyota Gazoo Racing missed the finish by more than two laps. The fact that Alpine kept the balance of payments problem under wraps in their communications over the weekend suggests that they had already accepted that they were not allowed to win the world title with an ‘old’ LMP1 car. Signatech-Alpine will return to the top category in 2024 with the LMDh.

Jota makes his way through

He could only lead the LMP2 title over Antonio Felix da Costa, Roberto Gonzales and Will Stevens. But the #38 Jota-Oreca wasn’t the strongest car all weekend. Nevertheless, the trio overcame all obstacles and won the title in third place. P6 would be enough.

Despite a temporary collision riding the #31 WRT-Oreca bike, Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns and Rene Rast secured the win. He never looked threatened from the front, except for the collision. However, Inter-Europol-Oreca #34 (Smiechowski/Brundle/Gutierrez) received a collision penalty.

At the finish line, the lead was almost 50 seconds on the United Autosports Oreca #23 (Lynn/Jarvis/Pierson). The Jota was already a lap lower, as they crossed the line right behind the winning Toyota.

Close behind, Prema-Oreca #9 (Kubica/Deletraz/Colombo) and WRT-Oreca #41 (Andrade/Habsburg/Nato) missed out on the podium by a few seconds due to a late splash & dash.

In LMP2 Pro-Am, Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera took the title for AF Corse. After two titles in GTE Am, this is the third championship that Perrodo and Nielsen have won. Rovera participated in two titles.

Dramatic GTE Pro decision

In fact, the race seemed already decided: the yellow Full Course (FCY) after 65 minutes had floated the #51 Ferrari of James Calado and Alessandro Piero Guidi to the front of the field, as both the Porsche and the #52 (Molina/Fuoco) were already there with stopped.

Number 51 was thus unquestionably on the way to victory. The #64 Corvette (Milner/Tandy) also benefited and moved up to second. Porsche number 92 (Christensen/Estre), on the other hand, went to the toilet twice and stopped twice in front of FCY.

Everything seemed already decided. But then, at the start of the penultimate hour, the #51 Ferrari’s fourth gear suddenly gave up. Within half an hour, the vehicle dropped back to fifth place. At first you missed fourth gear when shifting, but soon the car was spinning down the course in fifth gear only.

Now the cards are completely shuffled. No. 52 brought home the win, Bruni could increase his title chances by beating the Corvette. It looked like no chance at the start of the race, but woke up in the night and benefited from track position thanks to the first FCY.

Bruni couldn’t get past the Corvette. But that didn’t matter as Ferrari finished ahead of the GTE-Am cars, which meant the world title. No. 51 was losing five to eight seconds per lap to the GTE-Am leader. But when problems broke out, they were already four laps behind.

Ferrari endured the ordeal despite fourth gear in gear oil and finished a lap ahead of the GTE-Am field. James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi thus successfully defended the title after the title they controversially won the previous year. They are the last champions of the GTE Pro class, which will be discontinued in 2023.

First WEC title for TF Sport

GTE Am was the most exciting of all classes in the battle for victory. For a long time it looked like the “iron ladies” Rahel Frey, Sarah Bovy and Michelle Gatting would pass. But in the last hour, they fell back to third place. Instead, Project 1 achieved a double victory with two Porsche 911 RSR-19s.

Matteo Cairoli, Mikkel Pedersen and Nicolas Leutwiler drove the #46 to their first win of the season. Ten minutes earlier, Ben Barnicoat overtook Michelle Gatting to give him, Phillip “PJ” Hyett and Gunnar Jeanette second place in their one-off run.

The title was celebrated outside the stage. Ben Keating finally got the hang of it; took the lead with a fourth-place finish in the #33 TF Sport Aston-Martin alongside Henrique Chaves and Marco Sörensen as rival Prodrive-Aston-Martin #98 (Dalla Lana/Pittard/Thiim) failed to finish fifth. Like TF Sport, this is the first WEC title for the Texas car wholesaler.

As previously mentioned, the GTE Pro category will no longer be used in 2023. It was also the last race of an LMP1 car in the WEC. A new era will begin in 2023, when a series of new hypercars based on the LMH and LMDh models will debut.

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