WEC Bahrain: Toyota in command at halfway mark, Ferrari leads GTE Pro

Toyota holds a commanding lead at the halfway point of the Bahrain 8 Hours, as its Hypercar rivals struggle to put up a competition in the World Endurance Championship finale.

WEC Bahrain: Toyota in command at halfway mark, Ferrari leads GTE Pro

The #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez sits 2.4s clear in front after being let through by the sister car of Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa in the fourth hour of the race.

Second place would be enough for the #8 crew to clinch the championship with its chief rival, the #36 Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andre Negrao, running a lap down in third as the only Hypercar contender not to suffer technical issues.

Buemi led the field early on in the #8 Toyota that Hartley had qualified on pole, despite the #93 Peugeot then driven by Paul di Resta closing in as they encountered traffic from lower categories.

The #93 Peugeot would drop to third in the first round of pitstops due to a fractionally slower pitstop, making it a Toyota 1-2 at the front of the field with the #8 entry remaining ahead of #7.

Hartley held a five-second advantage after taking over the #8 car from Buemi but soon started coming under pressure from Conway, who rapidly wiped out the advantage of the championship-leading car.

Hartley was initially hesitant on team radio when Toyota elected to impose manufacturer orders, but he eventually let Conway through by lifting at the end of the start/finish straight.

Alpine has had an underwhelming run in what’s the last outing of the A480-Gibson LMP1 car, with the French manufacturer failing to make any serious inroads after qualifying fifth and last in the Hypercar class.

Nicolas Lapierre was able to get heat into his tyres better than some of his rivals at the start of the race and passed the #94 Peugeot of Menezes and even the #7 Toyota then driven by Jose Maria Lopez.

But Lopez was able to repass the Alpine on lap three and the #36 crew then lost further time by pitting just before the second full-course yellow period of the race.

The FCY was deployed because the #93 Peugeot that had qualified on the front row suffered a gearbox issue just before the end of hour two. 

After stopping on track for a long time on the run-off area at Turns 2 and 3, di Resta was able to car the back to the garage, where it spent two laps before being sent back out on tracks.

The #94 Peugeot also suffered mechanical issues during the race, with a second stoppage with Loic Duval at the wheel just before the halfway point of the race promoting Alpine to third.

  • Watch all WEC races, including this weekend's 8 Hours of Bahrain, live on Motorsport.tv
#31 WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2: Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns, Rene Rast

#31 WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2: Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns, Rene Rast

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

WRT passes United for LMP2 lead

A charging stint from three-time DTM champion Rene Rast propelled the #31 WRT ORECA car into the LMP2 lead two hours and 30 minutes into the race.

The #23 United Autosports ORECA runs second with Oliver Jarvis at the wheel, ahead of the sister #22 car currently driven by Will Owen.

The #22 United had held a solid lead following an impressive early drive from Owen’s team-mate Filipe Albuquerque, but the crew dropped behind both the lead WRT and the #23 Oreca later on in the race.

The championship-leading #38 Jota car is only fourth but has already burned through almost two hours of driving time for its silver-rated driver Roberto Gonzalez, putting it in a strong position to clinch the title.

Advantage Ferrari in GTE classes

Ferrari is poised to defend its title in GTE Pro after James Calado completed a pitstop under the first FCY to propel the #51 Ferrari he shares with Alessandro Pier Guidi from third to the lead.

The other Ferrari of Miguel Molina is second after teammate Antonio Fuoco passed the quick-starting #92 Porsche of Kevin Estre during what was then the lead battle at the end of the first hour.

The #64 Corvette, which also stopped under the FCY like the #51 Ferrari, runs third after trading positions with the #92 Porsche in the first half of the race.

The five-car GTE Pro field is propped up by the #91 Porsche of Richard Lietz.

Sarah Bovy leads the GTE Am class in the #85 Iron Dames Ferrari 488 GTE after four hours of racing.

shares
comments
ELMS champion Ye steps up to Jota Porsche LMDh squad in WEC
Previous article

ELMS champion Ye steps up to Jota Porsche LMDh squad in WEC

Next article

WEC Bahrain: #8 Toyota wins title; Ferrari hangs on to take GTE Pro crown

WEC Bahrain: #8 Toyota wins title; Ferrari hangs on to take GTE Pro crown
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Plus

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Plus

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination Plus

Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination

OPINION: Peugeot will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar that has ignored design conventions by eschewing a rear wing. Its distinctive look will help sportscar racing appeal to fresh audiences as a new golden era is ushered in

WEC
Jul 7, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022