Toyota Gazoo Racing wrapped up the FIA World Endurance Championship season with a dominant 1-2 run in Saturday’s 8 Hours of Bahrain that saw the No. 8 crew of Brendon Hartley, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi win the race and No. 7 car of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez crowned world drivers’ champions.
Nakajima, in his final race with the Japanese manufacturer, drove the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid to a 7.351-second victory over the sister entry, brought to the checkered flag by Lopez.
It gave Toyota a clean sweep of wins in the WEC season, in another commanding race after the No. 36 Signatech-run Alpine A480 Gibson battled gearbox issues early on.
Nico Lapierre dashed into the lead in the grandfathered LMP1 car at the start until Conway took over point on Lap 8, in what quickly turned into another Toyota affair with the two cars exchanging the lead.
Lapierre’s trip to the garage, which cost the Alpine three laps in the opening hour, handed a clear-sailing win to Toyota.
Other minor setbacks saw Lapierre and co-drivers Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere finish six laps behind the race-winning No. 7 machine.
Team WRT claimed the LMP2 world title with its third consecutive class win with drivers Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi, which enjoyed an equally dominant race.
Audi Sport factory driver Frijns took the No. 31 Oreca 07 Gibson to 1 minute and 14.320-second win over the No. 38 JOTA entry of Antonio Felix Da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davidson in second.
The No. 28 JOTA Oreca of Tom Blomqvist emerged in second following the final round of stops ahead of Da Costa, who got around the sister car with three minutes to go.
Davidson, in his final race in professional competition, overcame an unexpected trip down pit lane and a subsequent drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Filipe Albuquerque drove the No. 22 United Autosports entry to a fourth place class finish, ahead of the No. 34 Inter Europol Competition Oreca, which completed the top-five.
LMP2 Pro-Am honors went to the No. 29 Racing Team Nederland entry of Frits van Eerd, Giedo van der Garde and Job van Uitert, which finished sixth among the LMP2 entries.
Van Eerd, meanwhile, claimed the sub-class championship as a solo driver.
Ferrari Provisionally Wins GTE-Pro Title in Dramatic Finale
Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado have provisionally claimed the GTE drivers’ world championship in a dramatic conclusion that saw contact between the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE and the then-class leading No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Michael Christensen in the final 15 minutes.
Christensen spun as a result of the contact, with race control ordering Pier Guidi, with a damaged nose, to give the position back, which he did not as the the Porsche pitted for fuel with ten minutes to go.
Pier Guidi crossed the line ahead of Christensen by 3.249 seconds, with no further decisions having been made as of the time of this writing.
It has provisionally given Ferrari the GTE world manufacturers’ title as well.
The No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari completed the class podium followed by the No. 91 Porsche, which lost time due to a pit stop infringement and a left-rear wheel issue in the final three hours.
GTE-Am class and championship honors went to the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari trio of Nicklas Nielsen, Alessio Rovera and Francois Perrodo.
Nielsen finished 1 lap ahead of the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Matt Campbell in the race, which was largely dominated by the Italian Ferrari squad.
The No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche completed the class podium after overcoming a 1 minute stop-and-hold penalty in the fourth hour for “putting a marshal in danger” during the race’s third Full Course Yellow.
Riccardo Pera held second in class until a final lap pass by Campbell for position.
It marked back-to-back class titles for Ferrari factory driver Nielsen and Perrodo, with the Frenchman claiming his third outright GTE-Am championship.
A challenge from the No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which entered the race with a chance of the class title, started to unravel on the opening lap when Ben Keating and the No. 98 Northwest AMR entry of Paul Dalla Lana made contact, resulting in punctures for both cars.
Keating later suffered an incident with the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari of Thomas Flohr that resulted in suspension damage and eventual retirement.
RESULTS: 8H Bahrain (Provisional)