Toyota City, Japan, Nov 6, 2023 - (JCN Newswire) - TOYOTA GAZOO Racing brought the curtain down on a thrilling 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season with a one-two victory in the 8 Hours of Bahrain to decide the destination of the drivers’ title.
Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa won the race in their #8 GR010 HYBRID to secure their second successive drivers’ World Championship. Sébastien and Brendon also set a new record of four drivers’ title apiece, while Ryo has now won titles in both his seasons of Hypercar competition so far.
A battling race from Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 GR010 HYBRID saw a fine recovery drive following a first-corner incident. They needed victory to challenge for the title but had to settle for second place, earning runners-up spot in the championship. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing confirmed its fifth consecutive World Championship double of manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles for the perfect end to an exciting season of Hypercar competition which featured fierce challenges from Cadillac, Ferrari, Glickenhaus, Peugeot, Porsche and Vanwall.
That challenge continued into the final race of the season, which began on a hot, sunny afternoon in Bahrain. Sébastien led from pole position but the #7 crew’s title chances were derailed a few metres later when Mike was knocked out of second place at the first corner by the #2 Cadillac, dropping him to the back of the field.
He immediately began a stirring fight back, pulling off a series of decisive overtaking manoeuvres to pass the Peugeots and Porsches within opening first 35 minutes to get back into the top five. Meanwhile, Sébastien’s consistent speed at the front saw him build an advantage over the two Ferraris.
As the first pit stops approached at the one-hour mark, Mike made two more stunning overtakes to return to the top three, passing the #50 Ferrari before muscling his way beyond the #38 Hertz Team Jota Porsche into third a few moments later. Sébastien stretched his lead further through the second hour while Mike closed on the second-placed #51 Ferrari, although tyre degradation prevented him finding a way past. Just before the start of hour three, Mike handed the #7 to Kamui, who quickly set a new fastest lap and made the move on the #51 Ferrari for second.
Brendon took the wheel of the #8 and led the race as darkness fell, with Kamui around half a minute behind. Pacy and precise driving through the lapped trafic saw the situation stabilise at the front and, at half distance, José and Ryo began their stints with the GR010 HYBRIDs running comfortably in first and second.
As the race entered its last two hours, the penultimate driver changes saw Mike return to the #7 and Sébastien resume battle in the #8. Kamui and Brendon took over for the final hour of the race. With a 40-second advantage in the lead, Brendon guided the #8 safely through the closing laps while Kamui was under no threat from behind but nevertheless showed the pace of the #7 by setting the fastest lap of the race.
The chequered flag waved for Brendon after 249 laps and he finished 47.516secs ahead of Kamui in the #7. That brought the 2023 season to an end after seven events, 64 hours of racing and six wins for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, including four one-twos, to take the team’s tally to 45 victories since its WEC debut in 2012.
For more information, visit https://toyotagazooracing.com/wec/release/2023/rd07-race/.