The Swiss Sébastien Buemi, the New Zealander Brendon Hartley and the Japanese Ryo Hirakawa (Toyota) retained their title of world drivers' endurance champions on Saturday after their victory at the Eight Hours of Bahrain, the final round of the WEC world championship.
Toyota had already been crowned as a manufacturer, for the 6th time in total and the 5th time in a row, at the end of the previous event in September in Japan. Only the 24 hours of Le Mans, won in June by Ferrari, escaped the Japanese manufacturer this season, which confirms its domination of the premier “Hypercar” category, which nevertheless attracts a growing number of renowned brands.
The Bahrain round still had to decide the drivers' title between the two Toyota crews. That of the N.8 (Buemi, Hartley, Hirakawa) had achieved pole position ahead of that of the N.7 composed of the Briton Mike Conway, the Japanese Kamui Kobayashi and the Argentinian José Maria Lopez.
A collision from the start between the Toyota N.7 and the Cadillac N. 2, 3rd on the grid, immediately allowed the Toyota N.8 to take the lead, with the Cadillac receiving a penalty . At mid-race, the Toyota N.8 was still in command with around thirty seconds ahead of the other Japanese car, which had caught up with the Ferraris which had taken advantage of its setbacks at the start of the race.
But the leading car then experienced some emotions, victim of a collision with a Porsche in the GT category. More fear than harm, however, and the N.8 retained the lead, increasing its lead to some 40 seconds in the 6th hour over the N.7, the latter preceding the Porsche N.38 of the Jota team. With half an hour to go, the Ferrari N.50 moved into 3rd, a position it kept until the end.
Note the victory in the LMGTE category of the all-female Iron Dames crew made up of the German Sarah Bovy, the Danish Michelle Gatting and the Swiss Rachel Frey.