SAKIR, Bahrain—Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Mike Conway, along with teammates Kamui Kobyaschi and Jose Maria Lopez might have won the Eight Hours of Bahrain Saturday evening, but their sister car, driven by Sebastian Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Rio Hirakawa, took the world title with the Alpine car of Andre Negrao, Nicholas Lapierre and Mathieu Vaxiviere finishing in third.
In addition, Toyota also took the manufacturers title by defeating Alpine with the American Glickenhaus team, who were not at the race, ending up third.
Buemi took the lead at the start, with the Total Energies Peugeot, driven by Paul Di Resta, who challenged the Swiss for the first couple of hours. However, the French car did not last long, and began to experience gear trouble and had to retire early on. This pushed the number seven Toyota into second, with the Alpine in third. With only a couple of hours to go, Conway began to get much faster, and with the assistance of Kobyaschi, finally caught the Buemi entry and was ordered to pass, with the Toyota team feeling that the Briton was much quicker. It stayed for the rest of the race, but Conway’s team lost the championship.
In the LMP 2 division, the WRT Team car of Sean Gelael, Robin Frijins and Rene Rast took the race win by dominating after leading in the third hour. But the JOTA entry, piloted by Antonio Felix de Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Will Stevens won the title by finishing in third. Second went to the United Autosports team of Alex Lynn, Olivier Jarvis and Josh Pierson.
In its final race, the GTE PRO group expected it to be a battle between the Porsches and Ferrari’s and this was what did happen, but the Porsches lost momentum midway through the race, with the Corvette Racing team working hard to finish in second, with Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner driving. But the race went to Ferrari’s Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina winning and teammates Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado taking the title. Ferrari themselves earned the GTE PRO title. A disappointing Porsche team could only take third, with Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre driving.
For the GTE AM cars, Team Project 1 earned their first 1-2 by having Matteo Cairoli, Niki Leutwiler and Mikkel Pedersen finish ahead of their sister car, driven by Ben Barnicoat. Along with his teammates PJ Hyett and Gunnar Jeanette, the group took second, only after Barnicoat himself passed the Iron Dames car, driven by Rahel Frey, with 70 minutes left in the race. The all-women team, which included Sarah Bovy and Michelle Gatting, ended up finishing in third, after leading most of the race in this division.
But the championship was won by TF Sport, with Ben Keating and Marco Sorensen, who took honours by finishing fourth in the race.
By Mark Gero