This 2023 WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain race report is proudly brought to you by Toyota Gazoo Racing.
The final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship took place in the Gulf. The 2023 WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain was hosted at a track that most fans will recognise from Formula One races that take place there. The event, which started in the afternoon, would see racers deal with sunset before the race was concluded under lights.
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Toyota Gazoo Racing dominated the final race of the 2023 campaign. The Japanese outfit locked out the front row of the grid during qualifying. It was the No.8 GR010 Hypercar crew of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa who led the race in Bahrain from start to finish.
In doing so, Toyota claimed a third straight Hypercar title with a total of 217 points. Buemi and Hartley also claimed their fourth WEC drivers’ titles, while Hirakawa confirmed his second in as many years. The sister car, the No.7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez made it a Toyota 1-2. They had to fight back after contact at the start from the No.2 Cadillac.
Akio Toyoda said after the race: “Today, both cars experienced challenges. I feel sorry that the drivers were not able to drive the final race comfortably. Car #7 had an accident at the start, but it quickly closed the gap and fought for the victory with car #8 in a race that could have easily been won by either car. It was a race where all competitors pushed hard in difficult conditions.”
Click here to check out our bespoke gallery of images from the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans.
There was plenty of action across the hypercar field throughout the race. The stablemates from Italy battled each other, and the Porsches, hard for the final podium spot. The No.50 Ferrari AF Corse 499P driven by Antonio Fuoco, Nicklas Nielsen and Miguel Molina held off all challengers to claim the final podium spot. As a result, Ferrari finished the year second in the manufacturers’ championship.
Click here to read about a derestricted version of the Ferrari 499P that the company sells to private individuals.
The Porsche hypercars seemed to have found pace in the latter stages of the season. The 963s were running strong throughout the season finale. They German team netted third in the FIA Manufacturers’ Trophy. With more automakers entering the fold in 2024, teams such as Peugeot, Cadillac and Floyd Vanvwall will have plenty of competition for the lower placings.
The No.41 Oreca-Gibson of Robert Kubica, Rui Andrade and Louis Deletraz took the final-ever LMP2 race in the WEC. The trio also sealed the LMP2 title. Kubica took the checkered flag giving the team its third race win of the season. The sister entry of Robin Frijns, Sean Gelael and Ferdinand Habsburg finished second ahead of No.28 JOTA Oreca-Gibson driven by Oliver Rasmussen, Pietro Fittipaldi and David Heinemeier-Hansson.
The Iron Dames squad of Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy and Rahel Frey took an emotional first WEC win in the final ever LMGTE Am race. Gatting resisted late pressure from the Aston Martin for the historic victory. The No.85 Porsche 911 RSR finished ahead of the D’Station Aston Martin. Gatting, Bovy and Frey became the first all-female squad to win a WEC event.
Tomonobu Fuji, Casper Stevenson and Satoshi Hoshino finished ahead of the AMR Aston Martin driven by Alex Riberas, Ian James and Daniel Mancinelli. Corvette Racing claimed the 2023 title ahead of the Iron Dames.
The 2024 FIA WEC season will resume in February next year for the season-opening Prologue with round one taking place during March in Qatar. Changes for the new season include the adoption of GT3-spec cars for the GT category. This update brings the likes of Ford’s Mustang and possibly Mercedes-AMG into the series.
The front-running class will grow with the additions of the Lamborghini’s SC63, Alpine, the BMW M Hybrid V8, which has been racing in the US during 2023, and potentially Isotta Fraschini as well.
Other big news is that of new drivers joining in 2024. Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi is eyeing a drive in the BMW hypercar. The Italian will test an LMP2 as part of that preparation. Mick Schumacher, son of F1 champ Michael, has been linked with the Alpine program.