GULF WEEKLY: The 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season came to a close over the weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) with title-favourites Toyota Gazoo Racing securing the win in a stunning one-two performance in the Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain, writes Mai Al-Khatib-Camille.
It was the second consecutive weekend that both Toyota’s GR010 Hybrid Hypercars claimed the top two places in the final overall classification. However, it was the #8 crew featuring Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley who triumphed this time around, after their teammates Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez steered their #7 car for the win in last week’s Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain.
Kobayashi is now Japan’s first two-time World Champion on four wheels while Lopez becomes only the second Argentinian to win five FIA World Championships, following in the footsteps of the great Juan Manuel Fangio.
“Big congratulations to Mike, Kamui and José for becoming World Champions again, and thanks for an amazing season,” said Gazoo Racing Company president Koji Sato.
“I am really happy with this result,” said Kobayashi. “It’s hard to compare the two World Championship wins but it feels great to win again with Mike and José. Thanks to everyone who helped us achieve this, particularly the big support we get from Japan.
This victory marks a milestone for Toyota Gazoo Racing as it’s 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. The victory in Bahrain meant it had already secured its fourth teams’ World Championship.
Meanwhile, the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) 2 class winners on Saturday were Team WRT’s Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi driving their #31 Oreca 07-Gibson. The Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance (LMGTE) Pro winners were the AF Corse pair of Alessandro Pier Guidi-James Calado in their #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.
AF Corse were also triumphant in the LMGTE Am class, claiming first place with their #83 crew of Nicklas Nieklsen, Francois Perrodo and Alessio Rovera in their 488 GTE Evo.
On Sunday, the Sakhir circuit featured the annual Rookie Test which saw Alpine Elf Matmut driver Nicolas Lapierre clocking the fastest time and taking the win. World Rally Champion legend Sebastien Ogier also completed his first outing in a Hypercar with Toyota.
Leading the LMP2 class was Sophia Floersch and Kevin Estre of Porsche GT Team was quickest amongst the LMGTE Pro runners. The LMGTE Am class was paced by Andrew Watson in TF Sport’s #33 Aston Martin Vantage AMR.
Eighteen cars featuring 43 drivers entered the Rookie Test, which officially brought the 2021 WEC season to a close.