***Toyota Gazoo Racing celebrated as the first-ever Hypercar World Endurance champions Saturday evening following the season-ending 8 Hours of Bahrain, where the paddock was transformed into an awards ceremony that, for the first time, included the class championship-winning cars on stage.
***It marked the first time in WEC history that a single manufacturer swept all race wins in the season.
***Mike Conway, who teamed with Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez to win the world drivers’ championship, became the first Englishman to win back-to-back WEC titles since Derek Bell in 1985-86.
***Lopez, meanwhile, is now a five-time FIA world champion when accounting for his three World Touring Car Championship titles from 2014-16.
***All class champions except for AF Corse, Ferrari and drivers James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi were awarded trophies on-stage, as Porsche’s post-race protest against the handling of the late-race clash between the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo and No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 had not yet been decided.
***Porsche has 96 hours to officially declare whether it will pursue its intended appeal against the WEC stewards that would result in a hearing at the FIA International Court of Appeal.
***A handful of special awards were presented during the prize-giving ceremony, including ‘Revelation of the Year’ to Alessio Rovera, ‘Gentleman of the Year’ to Frits van Eerd and a special ‘Excellence Award’ for both Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.
***Francois Perrodo becomes the first three-time WEC champion in the current era, with the Frenchman having previously taken titles in 2016 and 2019-20, all in the GTE-Am class.
***Perrodo’s No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo won a season-high four out of six races, more than any other car in class this year. The pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids were split evenly with three wins apiece, while the LMP2 and GTE-Pro championship-winning No. 31 Team WRT Oreca and No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari scored three wins as well.
***Team WRT added to its European Le Mans Series title by winning the LMP2 championship in its first full season of prototype competition. “I don’t think there is a happier team principal in the world tonight!” said team boss Vincent Vosse. “I am really extremely proud of the job done by the entire team and the drivers throughout the year.”
***Robin Frijns, part of the championship-winning WRT crew, and Racing Team Nederland’s team owner/driver van Eerd become the first Dutchmen to win WEC titles, meanwhile.
***Van Eerd has won in the first year of the LMP2 Pro-Am subclass, awarded to teams utilizing a Bronze-rated driver in its lineup that featured competition from DragonSpeed, Realteam Racing, High Class Racing and ARC Bratislava.
***Dennis Andersen set the most fastest laps out of the five full-season Bronze-rated drivers in the new subclass this year. The High Class Racing driver was quickest at Monza and the 8 Hours of Bahrain. He was also the top full-time Bronze in the WEC field at Le Mans, where ELMS competitor Arnold Robin set the fastest Bronze lap outright.
***All but one of the full-season LMP2 Bronze drivers set the fastest lap amongst their peers. Henrik Hedman led the group at Spa behind two guest drivers, followed by van Eerd at Portimao, Miro Konopka at the 6 Hours of Bahrain and Andersen.
***The pair of Toyotas stayed on Michelin’s ‘medium hot weather’ tire for the entire race despite having explored the option to go the available ‘soft hot weather’ compound according to TGR-E technical director Pascal Vasselon.
***The only technical issue for either Toyota in both Bahrain races was an electrical upshift gremlin for the No. 8 Toyota on Saturday, which was fixed by a replacement of the steering wheel in the sixth hour. The swap only cost around three seconds.
***Brendon Hartley also revealed that his car had an “engine problem” in qualifying, which potentially prevented him from setting the pole time. Vasselon said the issue is not yet “totally clear” stating “the response of the engine was not perfect.”
***Hartley was still fastest through the speed trap at Bahrain International Circuit across both WEC weekends. The Toyota driver logged 298.5 km/h (185.5 mph) in qualifying and stood 4 km/h quicker than Kamui Kobayashi who was second in the table.
***Vasselon described the first season of the Hypercar era as a success from Toyota’s perspective. “For us, we are quite happy to have had virtually zero serious issues in the last two races, so we believe we are reasonably happy about the season,” he said.
***Filipe Albuquerque suggested that the Bahrain track did not suit defending LMP2 champion United Autosports but added that the team “must be humble” about missing out on a second title in a competitive category field.
“We lacked pace in Bahrain but if you look back at the other races it hasn’t been terrible,” he said. “Unfortunately, it was a double-header in Bahrain, and I wonder what would have happened if it was a double-header in Spa for example. Things would have been different, but it is what it is.”
***The No. 91 Porsche dropped out of contention in GTE-Pro after a pit lane infringement that added ten seconds to one of its pit stop times, while also battling with a left-rear tire that wouldn’t come off during a stop.
***Riccardo Pera was handed a one-minute stop and hold penalty in the fourth hour of the race for “putting a marshal in danger” during the third FCY period. The marshal was seen making a hasty escape from picking up debris at Turn 8 as Pera’s car went past.
***Pera, Matteo Cairoli and Egidio Perfetti, who is unlikely to return to the WEC next year, still came home with a third place class finish in GTE-Am with their No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche, which lost second place to a last-lap pass by the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Matt Campbell.
“The fact that we fought our way back through an extremely competitive field shows the team spirit that drives us all,” said team principal Axel Funke. “Of course it’s disappointing to miss out on second by one-tenth of a second, but we can take that on the chin and celebrate the end of the season with the rest of the paddock.”
***Dempsey-Proton’s No. 88 Porsche was dealt a drive-through for causing a collision with the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Marcos Gomes into Turn 1, however Axcil Jefferies was unable to serve his penalty after being unable to restart his car, generating one of two retirements. The other non-finisher was the TF Sport Aston Martin.
***FIA media delegate Jeff Carter waved the checkered flag on the race. Bahrain marked Carter’s final event in his current capacity in the WEC, after having worked every event since the championship’s launch in 2012. A special reception was held in the media center on race day morning, attended by press representatives and senior figures from the championship.
***WEC race director Eduardo Freitas, journalist Gary Watkins and Dempsey-Proton team owner/driver Christian Ried are also among the few members of the WEC paddock to have been present for all 72 races to date.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report