TOYOTA GAZOO Racing completed its history-making Hypercar season in style with a one-two victory in the 8 Hours of Bahrain on a day of destiny for the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) drivers’ crown.
An emotional finale to the WEC season saw Kazuki Nakajima bring the curtain down on his glittering endurance career in fitting style with victory in the #8 GR010 HYBRID he shares with Sébastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley.
Le Mans winners Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 GR010 HYBRID, retained the drivers’ title by finishing Saturday’s race, the sixth and final round of the season, in second place.
Kamui is now Japan’s first two-time World Champion on four wheels while José becomes only the second Argentinian to win five FIA World Championships, following in the footsteps of the great Juan Manuel Fangio.
Both GR010 HYBRIDs displayed a tribute to Kazuki, who has earned his status as an endurance racing legend by winning Le Mans three times. He took 17 victories from his 59 WEC races and won the 2018-2019 World Championship title alongside Sébastien and Fernando Alonso.
On a day of new milestones, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing became the first team to win every race in a WEC season. It extended its unprecedented winning run to nine, in its 70th event since entering the series in 2012. Last week’s victory in Bahrain meant it had already secured its fourth teams’ World Championship.
Despite clean sweeps in all sessions of the Bahrain double-header, the GR010 HYBRIDs played catch-up on the opening laps when the #36 Alpine stole an early lead. But some exciting wheel-to-wheel racing put the GR010 HYBRIDs back in front and they never looked back.
As the race moved into the night, the #8 car established an ever-stronger grip at the front, edging clear of the #7. In the sixth hour, the lead was reduced slightly when a replacement steering wheel was required for the #8, following occasional gearshift issues. That cost only a few seconds at a scheduled pit stop, which rectified the problem.
Kazuki took the wheel of the #8 car for the final stint, and his last laps in WEC. A journey which started with the roll-out of the TS030 HYBRID in January 2012, ended when Kazuki took the checkered flag to win by 7.351secs from José, whose second place delivered another world title to the #7 crew.
Alpine Elf Matmut finish second in the Hypercar World Endurance Championship with a total of 108 points. The race started superbly for the French team, with Nicolas Lapierre passing Buemi and pole-sitter Mike Conway through the opening few corners.
However, Lapierre was soon overtaken by both Toyotas before a gearbox issue forced a lengthy pitstop for the No. 36 car on the 25th lap. As a result, the Alpine A480 Gibson lost three laps as the team worked hard to fix the issues.
The French squad (Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere) did a good job of fighting back up the leaderboard through the remainder of the race, eventually finishing P3 and four laps down on the race winners.
Ferrari wins epic battle for GT Manufacturers’ FIA World Endurance Championship
The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari is the provisional winner of the GT Manufacturers’ FIA World Endurance Championship after a dramatic finale which saw Porsche and Ferrari fighting tooth and nail throughout today’s 8 hour race.
Both the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo and the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR – 19 were locked in an enthralling battle with the No. 51 making contact with the Porsche in the race’s final 15 minutes.
Pier Guidi eventually held onto the win, crossing the finish line first to become provisional champion alongside James Calado. However, an investigation is currently underway after Porsche filed a protest following the end of the race. Currently in P2 is the Porsche driven by Kevin Estre, Neel Jani and Michael Christensen.
The No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari driven by Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra finished today’s race in third position ahead of No.91 Porsche 911 RSR of Gimmi Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki.
No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari win LMGTE Am for second consecutive year
The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari crew took the 2021 LMGTE Am title in style as Alessio Rovera, Nicklas Nielsen and Francois Perrodo won today’s race in Bahrain.
It is the team’s fourth victory of the season and sees the team successfully defend its GTE Am title as they finish the year 59.5 points ahead of TF Sport who had a troubled race today from start to finish.
Indeed, TF Sport were the only team who could really challenge AF Corse Ferrari today but were knocked out of contention when the No. 33 car incurred a puncture on the opening lap caused by contact with the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing car.
TF Sport did a super job of fighting back after the incident but a further collision with the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari later in the race resulted in a broken steering rack and dashed any hopes of a chance at the title. The team eventually retired after spending more than 90 minutes in the pits making repairs to the Aston Martin Vantage AMR.
The No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche belonging to Matt Campbell, Jaxon Evans and Christian Ried finished runner-up in Bahrain today and also finished third in the overall standings.
Rounding out today’s podium was the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche of Egidio Perfetti, Riccardo Pera and Matteo Cairoli, the crew making a good recovery following a one minute penalty earlier in the race.
Pole-sitters Cetilar Racing finished today’s race fourth overall, the Italian squad was hit earlier in the race by the No. 777 D’Station Aston Martin driven by Tomanobu Fuji who was given a drive-through-penalty as a result.
Elsewhere, the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Porsche retired early in the race as Axcil Jefferies spun and was unable to restart due to a mechanical issue.
Dream season for Team WRT as Bahrain win sees them crowned LMP2 Champions
The FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams was fiercely fought over this season but eventually went to Team WRT after a spectacular debut season in the WEC for the Belgian-based squad.
Team WRT were just five points ahead of rivals JOTA going into the final race so it was all to play for in the season finale. However, Team WRT’s Ferdinand Habsburg, Charles Milesi and Robin Frijns once again put in a superb performance in the No. 31 Oreca 07 Gibson to take a third consecutive victory.
Team WRT’s LMP2 title ensured they became the first Belgian team to take a WEC title, and also means that Frijns is the first Dutch champion in LMP2 history. It also rounds off a dream season for the squad which has seen them claim the ELMS title, as well as the LMP2 victory at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
During the race itself, however, it was Racing Team Nederland who emerged as early race leaders as Giedo Van Der Garde once again got off to a rapid start where he remained out in front for the first two hours.
The No. 38 and No. 28 JOTA cars finished second and third overall, the No. 38 car driven by Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzales eventually finishing over a minute behind race winners Team WRT. It was a particularly emotional race for Davidson who announced earlier this week he would retire from the WEC following a 22 year racing career.
The No. 28 JOTA car’s third place finish in the race saw Stoffel Vandoorne, Sean Gelael and Tom Blomqvist finish runner-up in the LMP2 title-fight, twenty points adrift of champions Team WRT.
Last year’s LMP2 Champions United Autosports finished P4 during the race and end the season fourth in the overall leaderboard. The No. 22 crew made up of Filipe Albuquerque, Fabio Scherer and Phil Hanson started the race on pole but eventually finished four seconds down on the No. 38 JOTA crew. They end the season with a total of 107 points.
Fifth in Bahrain and also fifth in the LMP2 standings at the end of the season was Inter Europol Competition, the Polish squad proving to be consistent throughout the year with its trio of drivers Jakub Smiechowski, Renger Van der Zander and Alex Brundle – the latter who recently confirmed he will remain with the squad for 2022.
Bahrain 8 Hours – Race results
|1st||Hypercar||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Buemi S. Nakajima K. Hartley B.||#8||247||0.000S||0.000s|
|2nd||Hypercar||Toyota Gazoo Racing||Conway M. Kobayashi K. Lopez J.||#7||247||7.351||7.351|
|3rd||Hypercar||Alpine Elf Matmut||Negrão A. Lapierre N. Vaxiviere M.||#36||241||6 Laps||6 Laps|
|4th||LMP2||Team WRT||Frijns R. Habsburg F. Milesi C.||#31||240||7 Laps||1 Lap|
|5th||LMP2||Jota||Gonzalez R. Felix Da Costa A. Davidson A.||#38||240||7 Laps||1:14.320|
|6th||LMP2||Jota||Gelael S. Vandoorne S. Blomqvist T.||#28||240||7 Laps||4.658|
|7th||LMP2||United Autosports USA||Hanson P. Scherer F. Albuquerque F.||#22||240||7 Laps||4.410|
|8th||LMP2||Inter Europol Competition||Smiechowski J. Van Der Zande R. Brundle A.||#34||238||9 Laps||2 Laps|
|9th||LMP2||Racing Team Nederland||Van Eerd F. Van Der Garde G. Van Uitert J.||#29||238||9 Laps||3.696|
|10th||LMP2||Realteam Racing||Garcia E. Duval L. Nato N.||#70||238||9 Laps||19.144|
|11th||LMP2||High Class Racing||Andersen D. Fjordbach A. Kubica R.||#20||237||10 Laps||1 Lap|
|12th||LMP2||Richard Mille Racing Team||Calderon T. Floersch S. Visser B.||#1||237||10 Laps||16.679|
|13th||LMP2||Dragonspeed||Hedman H. Montoya J. Hanley B.||#21||236||11 Laps||1 Lap|
|14th||LMP2||Arc Bratislava||Konopka M. Caldwell O. Panciatici N.||#44||235||12 Laps||1 Lap|
|15th||GTE Pro||AF Corse||Pier Guidi A. Calado J.||#51||233||14 Laps||2 Laps|
|16th||GTE Pro||Porsche Gt Team||Estre K. Jani N. Christensen M.||#92||233||14 Laps||3.249|
|17th||GTE Pro||AF Corse||Serra D. Molina M.||#52||233||14 Laps||15.144|
|18th||GTE Pro||Porsche Gt Team||Bruni G. Lietz R. Makowiecki F.||#91||231||16 Laps||2 Laps|
|19th||GTE Am||AF Corse||Perrodo F. Nielsen N. Rovera A.||#83||230||17 Laps||1 Lap|
|20th||GTE Am||Dempsey – Proton Racing||Ried C. Evans J. Campbell M.||#77||229||18 Laps||1 Lap|
|21st||GTE Am||Team Project 1||Perfetti E. Cairoli M. Pera R.||#56||229||18 Laps||0.123|
|22nd||GTE Am||Cetilar Racing||Lacorte R. Sernagiotto G. Fuoco A.||#47||229||18 Laps||34.045|
|23rd||GTE Am||Kessel Racing||Kimura T. Jensen M. Andrews S.||#57||228||19 Laps||1 Lap|
|24th||GTE Am||Iron Lynx||Schiavoni C. Piccini A. Cressoni M.||#60||228||19 Laps||1:46.263|
|25th||GTE Am||AF Corse||Flohr T. Castellacci F. Fisichella G.||#54||227||20 Laps||1 Lap|
|26th||GTE Am||D’station Racing||Hoshino S. Fujii T. Watson A.||#777||227||20 Laps||27.791|
|27th||GTE Am||Iron Lynx||Frey R. Bovy S. Legge K.||#85||225||22 Laps||2 Laps|
|28th||GTE Am||Gr Racing||Wainwright M. Barker B. Gamble T.||#86||224||23 Laps||1 Lap|
|29th||GTE Am||Aston Martin Racing||Dalla Lana P. Farfus A. Gomes M.||#98||223||24 Laps||1 Lap|
|30th||GTE Am||Tf Sport||Keating B. Pereira D. Fraga F.||#33||128||119 Laps||95 Laps|
|31st||GTE Am||Dempsey – Proton Racing||Al Qubaisi K. Jefferies A. Andlauer J.||#88||90||157 Laps||38 Laps|