The season finale in the FIA World Endurance Championship 2022 was run at Bahrain International Circuit, whose contract to hold the final race recently got renewed until 2025. Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain was the closure of overall fifty-eight hours of racing, at six different tracks.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa started the race from Pole Position, ahead of Peugeot TotalEnergies #93 with Paul Di Resta, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen in second place, Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi in third, and Peugeot TotalEnergies #94 with Gustavo Menezes, Nico Müller and Loic Duval in fourth, while Alpine Elf Team #36 with Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao started from P5.
Realteam by WRT #41 started from Pole Position in the LMP2 category with Norman Nato. Rui Andrade and Ferdinand Habsburg, ahead of JOTA #38 with Will Stevens, Antonio Felix when Costa and Roberto Gonzalez, and United Autosports USA #22 with Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Will Owen in P3.
AF Corse #83 with Alessio Rovera, Francois Perrodo and Nicklas Nielsen started from P4 in LMP2, which was also LMP2 Pro/Am Pole.
In the GTE Pro Porsche #91 with Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz would start from the Pole Position, ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #52 with Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina, while Porsche #92 with Michael Christensen Kevin Estre started third.
Iron Dames Ferrari #85 with Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey started from GTE Am Pole for the second time this year, in front of TF Sport Aston Martin #33 with Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sørensen, and with Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 with Christian Ried, Sebastien Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in P3.
37 cars took the start, and in the midfield, it looked like some people were too eager to start. But everyone got around Turn 1 safely, where United Autosports USA #22 quickly took the lead in the LMP2 category, while Porsche #92 took the lead in GTE Pro.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 had a solo spin in Turn 10, when he went too hard on the speeder and couldn’t get the car restarted. It triggered a Safety Car – but just after it got deployed, Christian Ried could restart the car and drive again. Which was why it was just a single lap at reduced speed before the race got underway again.
Alpine Elf Team #36 and Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 had an intense battle for third place, where #36 seemed to accelerate better before #7 pull away ahead again.
Iron Dames Ferrari #85 kept the lead in the GTE Am, ahead of TF Aston Martin #33, while Northwest AMR #98 came up to the third place.
The hard driving between Porsche and Ferrari started already fifteen minutes into the race, where Porsche #91 and AF Corse #52 drove side by side, and the Ferrari ended up in the run-off area. The stewards naturally looked at the drama, but they decided on no further action.
Richard Mille Racing Team #1 had to pit with a puncture but could quickly come back to the track.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 took the lead of GTE Am, when Pierre Ragues overtook Sarah Bovy.
There was a bit of chaos in the traffic when Realteam by WRT #41 dove very late and hit D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777. Both cars could continue to drive by themselves. After the stewards had looked into the incident, they chose to give #777 a warning.
After half an hour of investigation of the start, the stewards didn’t give any penalty to any car.
AF Corse Ferrari #52 fought to get past Porsche #91, when Antonio Fuoco got a slipstream on Gianmaria Bruni on the way to the penultimate corner.
United Autosports USA #22 was leading the LMP2 category, ahead of their sister car #23, while Realteam by WRT was down to third position, after all the teams in the class had pitted for the first time. #41 had made a driver change, while the others hadn’t.
AF Corse Ferrari #52 had caught up with Porsche #92, where there was just a battle between the two cars. There was a bit of a wide-driving, but all in all, it was a clean overtake.
One lap afterwards, Porsche #91 was right behind #92, so it looked like Estre could be in trouble with his tires, even though they had only been driving for less than an hour.
United Autosports USA #22 got a 10-second pitstop penalty for overtaking Realteam by WRT #41 outside the white lines at the start of the race.
Just when Porsche #92 pitted, Porsche #91 and AF Corse Ferrari #52 began to fight on the track, driving side by side through several corners. The Ferrari looked faster but Bruni was driving very wide, so it took almost a whole lap before the red car could get past.
Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 had en puncture on the left rear tire, shortly after Franck Dezeteux got in the car.
There were problems for ARC Bratislava #44, who had contact with somebody, as there were parts of the car hanging in the wind. At the same time, Miro Konopka had a solo spin in Turn 1.
A Full Course Yellow came when the entire tire carcass from #71 was lying in the middle of the track. It was a jackpot for AF Corse Ferrari #51, who hadn’t pitted yet, and they could do it under the FCY period, so that they would come out in a huge lead of the GTE Pro category, ahead of Corvette Racing #64, who had gotten the same advantage, while Porsche #92 was further back, though was still ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #52.
AF Corse Ferrari #54 had taken the lead in the GTE Am, as they also had won the FCY lottery. Iron Dames Ferrari #85 was right behind them, while Team Project 1 Porsche #56 had come up to P3.
AF Corse Ferrari #52 had caught up with Porsche #92 again and reclaimed the third position. So from being 1-2 in GTE Pro, Porsche was suddenly 4-5, after one and a half hours of the race.
The sun was slowly setting, and the race could change significantly when it got dark.
Suddenly, Vector Sport #10 drove slowly on the track, but Renger van der Zande could restart the car and continue. The team said that van der Zande had hit the speed limiter by mistake, which explained why he suddenly slowed down.
There was contact between GR Racing Porsche #86 and Richard Mille Racing Team #1 in Turn 8. The LMP2 car got a bit of a nudge from the Porsche, which cost Lilou Wadoux some seconds before she could continue.
Mikkel O. Pedersen had a good stint in Team Project 1 Porsche #46, where the Dane managed to drive up to P3 in the GTE Am category, before he handed the car over to his teammate Leutwiler.
Peugeot TotalEnergies #93 outbraked itself in Turn 1, and stopped for a short time. Di Resta said over the radio that he had problems with the gears, and the stranded car caused an FCY period. At the same time, the team’s #94 also stopped on the track, but after a restart, it could continue to drive. #93 could finally be restarted after a long moment, and di Resta drove it to the pits where the team pushed it into the garage. It was luckily just a short repair, which only cost the team three laps from the other Hypercars.
The stewards gave Spirit of Race Ferrari #71 a Drive-through, for the contact with ARC Bratislava #44 earlier in the race. The contact had cost #44 eleven minutes in the garage, in order to get repaired.
ARC Bratislava #44 and AF Corse Ferrari #54 got both a Drive-through, for not slowing down fast enough under the Full Course Yellow period earlier in the race.
GR Racing Porsche #86 got a Drive-through penalty, for the contact with Richard Mille Racing Team #1 earlier in the race.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 had a spin but could quickly continue.
There was yet another close driving between AF Corse Ferrari #52 and Porsche #92, where #52 had a tour on the run-off area, but with no damage. The stewards investigated the incident but chose not to give anyone a penalty.
Iron Dames Ferrari #85 retook the lead of GTE Am, after #54 had taken their penalty and fell back to the second position, while Northwest AMR #98 was third.
WRT #31 overtook United Autosports USA #22, and hence claimed the lead in the LMP2 category.
The sun had completely set, and the temperature had dived from thirty-five degrees to just about thirty.
Toyota Gazoo Racing chose to swap the positions of their cars, so #7 was now ahead of #8, and was also the leader of the race. The team felt that #7 was faster at that point of the race, and thus they swapped places, just like they had done earlier in the season.
Team Project 1 Porsche #56 got a 5-second penalty for an Unsafe Release earlier in the race.
Corvette Racing #64 took P3 in GTE Pro from Porsche #92, under braking toward Turn 8, where Tommy Milner threw the yellow car on the inside of Christensen.
There were problems for Peugeot TotalEnergies #94, where the car just stopped in Turn 1. Loic Duval had to restart the car, which took him twenty seconds to do so, before he could pick up the speed again. He chose to pit shortly afterwards, and got pushed back into the garage.
Halfway into the race, the leading cars were: Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 in Hypercar, WRT #31 in LMP2, AF Corse #83 with Nicklas Nielsen in LMP2 Pro/Am, AF Corse Ferrari #51 in GTE Pro, and Iron Dames Ferrari #85 with Michelle Gatting in GTE Am.
There was an FCY when there was a lot of debris in Turn 1 that needed to be cleaned up. JOTA #28 and Team Project 1 Porsche #56 had a collision, which spread some carbon fibre pieces over the track. Luckily, two fast marshals could pick them up so we avoided a Safety Car.
When the race got restarted, it didn’t take long before Northwest AMR #98 took second place in GTE Am from AF Corse Ferrari #54.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 got a Drive-through a track limits violation. It could be the first of many, since a lot of other drivers had gotten the same warnings.
Vector Sport #10 couldn’t start the car right away after a pitstop, where the mechanics had to lift the rear of the car and turn on the start engine.
JOTA #28 got a Drive-through for the contact with Team Project 1 Porsche #56 in Turn 1.
Alpine Elf Team #36 slowly fell back in the Hypercar category. The other championship candidates were over a lap behind the two Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 and #8, and couldn’t match their lap times – neither the ultimate fastest time nor the average time per stint.
The top 3 in LMP2 Pro/Am were separated by less than two seconds, where Algarve Pro Racing #45 had taken the lead, ahead of AF Corse #83 and Ultimate #35. A few laps before it was #35 who was ahead, but it changed as the tires got older and older.
United Autosports USA #23 had caught up with Prema Orlen Team #9 at second place, and now Oliver Jarvis put Robert Kubica under pressure. However, they couldn’t even see the leading WRT #31 out on the horizon as Robin Frijns was thirty-seven seconds ahead of them. The Pole made a mistake under braking to Turn 10, and the Englishman used it to get an advantage as they headed towards Turn 11, and after a braking duel between the two, #23 got ahead.
There was drama between three LMP2 cars in Turn 8. Inter Europol Competition #34 collided with WRT #31, and then Algarve Pro Racing #45 spun around trying to avoid the stranded #34. Fortunately, all three could continue without any damage to the cars.
Peugeot TotalEnergies #93 had to go back to the garage for more repairs. This time, Mikkel Jensen said that it was some gearbox problems; the fourth gear to be exact.
United Autosports USA #22 took third place when Will Owen drove past Lorenzo Colombo in Prema Orlen Team #9 on the latter’s out lap from the pits.
Team Project 1 Porsche #46 was back to third in GTE Am, after Nicolas Leutwiler had done all his stints, and Mikkel O. and Matteo Cairoli could drive the rest of the race at full speed.
AF Corse Ferrari #51 and #52 swapped positions, so #52 was ahead in the GTE Pro category again, with a bit over two hours left of the race.
Inter Europol Competition #34 got a 1-minute Stop & Go penalty for the collision with WRT #31 earlier in the race. #34 was one lap behind, and should’ve given the other car more space due to the blue flag.
There was drama when AF Corse Ferrari #51 with James Calado suddenly slowed down and continue to crawl back to the pits. It turned out to be a gearbox problem for the championship leader.
Team Project 1 Porsche #46 had taken the lead in the GTE Am category after an impressive drive for just under seven hours of the race.
Algarve Pro Racing #45 got a Drive-through for not slowing down fast enough to 80 km/hr under one of the two earlier Full Course Yellow periods. The same penalty was given to Spirit of Race Ferrari #71, for exactly the same offence.
The last hour of the race started with Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 in front of Hypercar, WRT #31 in LMP2, AF Corse #83 with Nicklas Nielsen in LMP2 Pro/Am, AF Corse Ferrari #52 in GTE Pro, and Team Project 1 Porsche #46 with Mikkel O. Pedersen in GTE Am.
There was a bit of shoving and pushing between United Autosports USA #22 and JOTA #38, where it was a Portuguese duel between Filipe Albuquerque and Antonio Felix da Costa, while also overtaking a slower GTE car. Luckily, both cars could get through.
AF Corse Ferrari #54 and Ultimate #35 hit each other in Turn 1, when Nick Cassidy locked his rear wheels and brushed past Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, who also ended up in a spin.
The lead changed in the GTE category when Iron Dames Ferrari #85 pitted for the last time, and Team Project 1 Porsche #46 retook the lead.
AF Corse Ferrari #54 had yet another spin in Turn 1, and even though Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 was close, they could avoid hitting each other.
Inter Europol Competition #34 got a 2-minute Stop & Go for making a mistake under an earlier pitstop.
With six minutes left of the race, both AF Corse #83 and Algarve Pro Racing #45 pitted. And it meant there were no changes at the top of LMP2 Pro/Am, since they were in the first and second positions.
Prema Orlen Team #9 also came into the pits for fuel, and they would lose a spot on the podium if the three cars ahead didn’t pit.
On the very last lap, Porsche #91 decided to pit and thus let #92 get past. At the same time, AF Corse Ferrari #51 slowed down, so that they wouldn’t be overtaken by the leading Toyota in order not to drive an extra lap.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, and Kamui Kobayashi won the race, ahead of their teammates in #8 with Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi, and Ryo Hirakawa, while Alpine Elf Team #36 with Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere, and Andre Negrao finished third.
In the LMP2 category, WRT #31 with Robin Frijns, Sean Gelael, and Rene Rast won the race, ahead of United Autosports USA #23 with Oliver Jarvis, Josh Pierson, and Alexander Lynn, and JOTA #38 with Antonio Felix when Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Will Stevens in P3.
AF Corse #83 with Francois Perrodo, Alessio Rovera, and Nicklas Nielsen won LMP2 Pro/Am, ahead of Ultimate #35 with Jean-Baptiste, Mathieu Lahaye and Francois Heriau, and with Algarve Pro Racing #45 with Steven Thomas, James Allen, and Rene Binder in third place.
GTE Pro was won by AF Corse Ferrari #52 with Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina, ahead of Corvette Racing #64 with Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner, and Porsche #92 with Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre.
Team Project 1 Porsche #46 with Nicolas Leutwiler, Matteo Cairoli, and Mikkel Overgaard Pedersen won the GTE Am category, ahead of their sister car #56 with Ben Barnicoat, PJ Hyatt, and Gunnar Jeannette, while Iron Dames Ferrari #85 finished third with Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy, and Rahel Frey.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 won the Hypercar VM championship, ahead of Alpine Elf Team #36, and Toyota Gazoo Racing #7.
In the LMP2 category, JOTA #38 can call themselves champions, ahead of WRT #31, and with United Autosports USA #23 in third place. JOTA #28 finished sixth.
AF Corse #83 won the LMP2 Pro/Am championship, ahead of Algarve Pro Racing #45, and Ultimate #35.
AF Corse Ferrari #51 won the GTE Pro championship for the second year in a row, followed by Porsche #92, and AF Corse Ferrari #52. Only three points separated the first and second positions, and one point down to third place – which was also the reason why Porsche chose to swap the positions of their two cars, or else it would’ve been Ferrari 1-2 in the championship.
In GTE Am, TF Sport Aston Martin #33 won the championship, in front of Northwest AMR #98, and Iron Dames Ferrari #85 in P3.
It was the end of another fantastic season in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Tomorrow, there will be a Rookie test on the track, and after that, all the cars have to be packed in containers and returned to Europe. Before they will get back to the containers and be ready for the Prologue at Sebring on 11 and 12 March 2023, where we’ll see plenty of new cars and certainly new drivers.