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Bahrain Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook on the eve of FIA World Endurance Championship finale…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Sebastien Buemi provided a gesture of appreciation to Anthony Davidson during Friday’s Free Practice 2 as Davidson’s JOTA Oreca 07 Gibson passed the Toyota pit box. Davidson, who drove for the Japanese manufacturer for six years, is retiring from professional racing at the end of Saturday’s 8 Hours of Bahrain.

***The pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids are carrying “Thank You Kazuki” stickers to honor Kazuki Nakajima’s last race in the team’s factory lineup.

***Brendon Hartley’s sweep of all three Free Practice sessions marked the second time a Toyota driver has achieved such a feat this year following Jose Maria Lopez’s topping of the time charts at Monza. The Argentinean also scored pole for that event, something Hartley was unable to achieve on Friday after losing out to Kamui Kobayashi in qualifying.

***Buemi expects tire degradation to be less of a prolonged issue for Toyota this weekend, particularly in the latter stages of the race after the sun goes down. Buemi’s No. 8 car suffered with higher degradation compared to its sister car in the 6 Hours of Bahrain.

“The first half is going to be quite similar because the race start is at 2 p.m.,” said Buemi. “So the first two drivers in the car shouldn’t expect any big differences. But after that it will get easier and we might have to change the tire spec.”

***Iron Lynx’s No. 60 Ferrari qualified 13th in the GTE-Am class after the team carried out gearbox repairs following Claudio Schiavoni’s rotation at Turn 11 during FP3. “It was just an unlucky coincidence,” said team principal Andrea Piccini. “He had a little spin in the first lap and then something happened on the gearbox.”

***The GTE-Am class pole-sitting No. 47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari was fined €500 after it was found in post-qualifying scrutineering that the car’s on-board fire extinguisher was out of date.

***Click Here for a list of starting drivers for tomorrow’s season finale.

***Alpine Endurance Team plans to “provide some ways of improvement” to the FIA and ACO regarding options for increasing its fuel range. “After that they will decide if it’s legal or not, and if they are open to help us to be closer to Toyota,” team principal Philippe Sinault told Sportscar365. “But it’s a fair dialogue. We have something to do, so we work on it.”

***While most members of the paddock have remained in Bahrain between the two WEC races, Sinault traveled back to France for a meeting before returning to the Gulf nation for the 8 Hours event. Several drivers made the short trip to Dubai for a few days of rest and relaxation.

***Francois Perrodo will only concentrate on LMP2 next year after ruling out any Nürburgring 24 or NLS appearances with GetSpeed Performance. The Frenchman is, however, interested in running the Dubai 24 Hour with Racetivity, which like GetSpeed operates a Mercedes-AMG GT3 program.

***Inter Europol team principal Sascha Fassbender admitted that it “looks difficult” for the team to retain Renger van der Zande for its LMP2 program next year. “We need to see if Renger can stay with the team next year or not, because he has the Ganassi deal for the Sebring race,” he told Sportscar365.

***Fassbender suggested that Inter Europol, which has committed to the next two WEC seasons, could also benefit from securing a consistent lineup for those campaigns. “It’s not confirmed, and I don’t know how Renger’s contracts are working, but it is likely that he will not be available in 2023. So then it maybe makes more sense to change for two years.”

***Scott Andrews and Tom Gamble are the only drivers signed up for the month-long stretch of races that includes the European Le Mans Series finale, the Bahrain WEC double-header and Motul Petit Le Mans, based on current entry lists.

***Racing Team Nederland’s Giedo van der Garde was fined €2,000 for overtaking another car under red flag conditions during FP3. The Dutchman was also given two behavior warning points. Miro Konopka, Esteban Garcia and Takeshi Kimura each gained two points for not reaching the 80 km/h speed limit in time as the red flag occurred.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon said he expects details of its GT3-based class for 2024, announced at Le Mans in August, to be finalized during the next FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in December. It is widely believed to be a single category featuring Pro-Am lineups.

***Fillon said the ACO’s partnership with SRO Motorsports Group for the co-organization of the Asian Le Mans Series beginning in 2023 was fueled by the evolution of the GT racing landscape, which will see GT3 replace GTE in the FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***WEC CEO Frederic Lequien said that the championship is facing a potential oversubscription for the 2022 season, with more entry requests than available places on the full-season grid. It’s believed the current maximum number of full-season entries is 34, due to the size of the pit lane at Fuji Speedway. Thirty-three cars were on this year’s entry list. 

“Yes we have this problem,” Lequien told Sportscar365. “We’re trying to manage it as good as we can. It’s a good sign. We have started to pay attention to this very seriously.”

***Sportscar365 understands that the finalized 2022 FIA driver ratings will be published on Nov. 15. A provisional list was released last month, featuring multiple changes, including a raft of Silver-to-Gold bumps, with drivers having been given a two-week window to lodge appeals. 

***Charlie Wurz, the son of double Le Mans winner and Toyota Gazoo Racing advisor Alex Wurz, is racing in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Middle East support series this weekend.

***MotorTrend will broadcast the first and last 90 minutes of the race live on Saturday for U.S. viewers, with the full race available on MotorTrend on Demand. Eurosport will carry the full race for European and UK viewers, with the WEC app available worldwide (except being geo-blocked in the U.S. and Canada). Click Here for the full broadcast schedule.

***Martin Haven, Allan McNish and Graham Goodwin will anchor the official broadcast coverage, with Louise Beckett and Duncan Vincent in the pit lane.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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