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Bahrain Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from season-ending 8 Hours of Bahrain…

Photo: Toyota

***Toyota Gazoo Racing earned its fifth FIA World Endurance Championship title and fourth consecutive, with the Japanese manufacturer finishing 42 points ahead of Alpine in the manufacturers’ world championship following a controlling run in Saturday’s season-ending 8 Hours of Bahrain.

***Team principal Kamui Kobayashi, who won the race in the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid alongside Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, said: “This year we faced strong competition and we finished with the best possible result. It’s a great feeling to end with a win.”

***Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley became the first three-time world champions, with Hartley also the first driver to win world titles for two different manufacturers following his initial triumphs with Porsche in 2015 and 2017.

***Hartley praised co-driver Ryo Hirakawa for his performance in the Japanese driver’s first season with the team. “At the start of the year he called himself ‘domestic’ which was always a bit of a joke for us,” said the Kiwi. “Now he’s ‘international.’ It’s a new nickname for Ryo!”

***Alpine struggled on two fronts in the race, with the French team’s LMP1 car pitting earlier than its Hypercar competitors and also struggling in traffic. “We didn’t have enough power to overtake easily,” said team principal Philippe Sinault. “On one clear lap it was OK, but in traffic it was impossible to keep the gap with the Toyotas.

***The Alpine got an 11-megajoule stint energy increase for Bahrain, but it still struggled to extend its fuel mileage. “Because of the fuel tank in terms of energy allowed by the regulations, we were mandatory to pit early,” Sinault said. “With the Full Course Yellow, we were dead because we pitted first and then the yellow happened just before Toyota pitted.”

***With its class victory on Saturday, WRT has won six of the last nine LMP2 races with its No. 31 Oreca 07 Gibson, which featured Robin Frijns as part of the driver lineup throughout both the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

***WRT principal Vincent Vosse said the Belgian squad had “no regrets” about failing to defend its LMP2 title, after winning two-thirds of the races across its two-car program.

***WRT driver and Bahrain winner Sean Gelael finished second in the LMP2 points for the second consecutive year, after doing so with new champion JOTA last season.

***United Autosports team co-owner Zak Brown was on-site on Saturday to witness the Anglo-American team score its first LMP2 podium finish since its class win in March’s season-opener at Sebring. Oliver Jarvis, Alex Lynn and Josh Pierson finished second in class in the No. 23 Oreca.

***The Vector Sport Oreca finished two laps behind the LMP2 winner after losing time due to a starter motor issue that required a trip to the garage. The problem came after the team tried the alternate strategy of single-stinting at the start.

***The British squad concluded its first WEC season 10th in the teams’ standings. Team principal Gary Holland told Sportscar365: “We made some big strides throughout the year and we’ve ended not as we hoped, but we’ve shown some pace with the car.”

***Earlier in the race, the Vector car mysteriously slowed down exiting a corner before picking up speed again. It emerged that driver Renger van der Zande accidentally hit the pit lane speed limiter, caused partly by the different placement of the button on the Oreca compared with the Dallara-based Cadillac DPi-V.R. that he normally drives.

***Esteban Gutierrez is parting ways with Inter Europol Competition after this weekend’s season finale. The ex-Formula 1 driver plans to continue racing in the WEC LMP2 class next year with a different team and is also “50/50” on doing the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

***AF Corse won what’s set to be the final LMP2 Pro-Am title in the WEC, with Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera, who also claimed top race honors in the subclass on Saturday.

***Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco picked up their long-awaited first GTE-Pro class win in the category’s final race. The AF Corse Ferrari duo would have finished second in the GTE drivers’ world championship if not for Porsche electing to pit its No. 91 car in the closing stages, in what’s understood to have been a strategic move by the German manufacturer.

***The pit stop boosted the No. 92 Porsche of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen to a third place class result.

***Corvette Racing scored its third podium finish of the WEC season with Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy benefiting from an early race FCY. “We got lucky with the early yellow,” said Tandy. “Actually we had looked at it early and said maybe the only chance we’d have is to try and play something on the fuel strategy game. That worked out well for us and the 51 Ferrari. We gained about 30 seconds on the other three cars when we pitted.”

***Ben Keating became the third American driver to win a WEC title after claiming the GTE-Am world championship alongside Aston Martin factory driver Maro Sorensen in the No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE. The duo were joined by Henrique Chaves from the second round of the season.

***Sorensen, meanwhile, becomes the only driver to have won both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am titles following the Dane’s world championships with Aston Martin Racing in 2016 and 2019-20.

***Team Project 1 scored its first 1-2 class finish in WEC history and first GTE-Am win since Bahrain 2019, with its No. 46 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Matteo Cairoli, Niki Leutwiler and Mikkel O. Pedersen. Ben Barnicoat and the American pairing of Gunnar Jeannette and PJ Heyett, in his first WEC race, finished second in class.

***The German squad’s last three class wins have all come in Bahrain, having only missed out on victories in last year’s six and eight-hour editions of the race at Bahrain International Circuit.

***Rahel Frey admitted that Iron Dames “wanted to aim for more” in its recently concluded tri-series endurance program, despite achieving top threes in the standings of WEC GTE-Am, European Le Mans Series GTE and the Gold Cup class of Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup.

***Frey added that the Iron Dames Ferrari lost its dominance in the cooler night conditions. “We were close to a first win for a long, long time but in the end we were just missing pace,” she told Sportscar365. “We had a fast car for quite hot conditions and then the colder it got, the more we were missing grip.”

***Jim Glickenhaus and Glickenhaus Racing team principal Luca Ciancetti attended the race and will be present at this evening’s awards ceremony to receive the trophy for finishing third in the Hypercar FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship.

***Glickenhaus declined to comment on the status of talks to secure funding that will enable his team to race in Hypercar next year. The Glickenhaus 007 Pipo chassis No. 709 has been testing at Sebring this weekend with its owner Jason McCarthy.

***The FIA held its Volunteers and Officials Weekend in Bahrain, recognizing the efforts of marshals, medical and rescue crews and firefighters in all levels of motorsport. On Friday a photo was taken with nearly 500 volunteers who worked at this weekend’s WEC and WTCR event.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon waved the checkered flag to close out the season. The 2023 campaign kicks off in 124 days with the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 17 as part of the joint WEC and IMSA event at Sebring International Raceway.

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 FOXSports.com and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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