All five drivers’ championships remain up for grabs as the WEC makes its annual visit to the Middle East, which retains its now traditional place on the season-ending calendar. And it couldn’t be closer in the World Hypercar Endurance Drivers Championship as the two leading rival brand teams arrive in Bahrain level on points.
Signatech’s Alpine A480 started the season in the best possible way with victory at Sebring, with Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere taking another top score at Monza to extend their lead on the way to Japan. But in the first Fuji 6 Hours race since 2019, Alpine was no match for the Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs as a 1-2 led by the #8 Le Mans 24 Hours-winning trio of Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa set up a winner take all title decider.
The form book certainly favors Toyota for the night race, only the second eight-hour race on the schedule after Sebring. He has won seven times in the desert since the WEC began in 2012, with Buemi claiming the spoils on three of those occasions, while Alpine finished third in last year’s six-hour and eight-hour editions. But any reliability issues, like the one that caused the #8 team to retire at Spa, are sure to be attacked by the ultra-consistent Alpine that has never finished lower than fourth this season.
The #7 Toyota of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose María López remains in mathematical contention, although the 2019-20 and 2021 champions are 26 points behind, needing a no-final for their competitors to secure a third title on the spin.
Bahrain marks the third race for Peugeot’s two 9X8 Le Mans Hypercars and the first chance to see Nico Muller in action with the French marque. The long-time Audi racer will make an early debut for Peugeot to replace James Rossiter, who has retired from driving to focus on his new role as team principal for Stellantis-branded Formula E team Maserati. Teaming up with Gustavo Menezes and Loic Duval, a winner in Bahrain at Audi’s WEC farewell in 2016, Muller will be keen to make a good first impression as Peugeot looks to claim a first podium finish of its return to prototype racing.
In the battle for the manufacturers’ championship, calculated based on the best-placed finisher from each manufacturer, Toyota has a 26-point lead over Alpine.
#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
No less close will be the GTE Pro contest, as the class bows out with a final fight between the Ferrari and Porsche factory teams before entering the Hypercar arena next year.
Reigning champions Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado in the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo hold an 11-point lead over the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, while Porsche’s second car is also in the running. Fight. Former Ferrari man Gianmaria Bruni in the #91 machine is a further three points behind and could become the first driver to claim the title solo since Richard Lietz in 2015 after the Austrian, Bruni’s regular co-driver, missed Monza. due to a positive COVID. -19 proof.
Momentum has gone back and forth between the two rival manufacturers throughout the season, each winning two of the five rounds held to date. It was only at Fuji that Pier Guidi and Calado became the first double winners of the year, while the #52 Ferrari brother of Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco limited 2018-19 champions Estre and Christensen to third place by deftly backing up his teammates.
It’s still too tight to call, especially with the lone Corvette Racing C8.R of Monza winners Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner looking to get into the mix. They will be equally determined to finish the year, and the GTE Pro era, on a high before the American marque’s move into the GTE Am ranks next year, and could have a decisive role to play in the bottom line.
The pole point will also be very precious. If the #51 Ferrari takes first place, it can afford to finish second and still claim the title.
Ferrari is just one point ahead of Porsche in the manufacturers’ standings as the Italian marque seeks a seventh GT manufacturers’ crown in the WEC era. Porsche has won it twice before, most recently in the 2018-19 campaign.
Aston Martin may no longer have a presence in GTE Pro, but the British marque will claim the spoils of the GTE Am title for the first time since 2017, with TF Sport and the Prodrive-run NorthWest AMR squads battling each other for the honour.
Henrique Chaves’ dramatic crash at Monza has been the only major issue in an excellent season to date for TF leaders Ben Keating and Marco Sorensen, who added Fuji’s success to their Le Mans victory and have not finished any lower. of the second this season. They have a 20-point lead over Sebring winners Paul dalla Lana, Nicki Thiim and David Pittard, so they can clinch the title by finishing fourth, with 38 points available for victory over the eight-hour distance.
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO GTE-PRO: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Only one big mishap will prevent the #38 Jota ORECA crew of Antonio Félix da Costa, Will Stevens and Roberto González from securing the LMP2 title. The trio hold a 28-point lead after finishing second at Fuji last time out, only missing out on victory by a splash with four minutes to go, and can clinch the crown with a sixth place finish.
Still, the #23 United Autosports ORECA chaser Oliver Jarvis and Josh Pierson will share with Alex Lynn has plenty to deal with as the Anglo-American team looks to not only open up Jota’s armor but also dismiss the challenge to its second-place finish. . Realteam by WRT, with Ferdinand Habsburg, Norman Nato and Rui Andrade, are just six points behind, while victory at Fuji propelled WRT drivers Robin Frijns and Sean Gelael to fourth place, a further two points behind.
The LMP2 Pro/Am subdivision also remains undecided, with reigning GTE Am champions Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera currently topping the standings. To secure Perrodo a fourth WEC title, after three previous wins in GTE Am, the #83 AF Corse team will have to defend an eight-point lead over Algarve Pro Racing trio Steven Thomas, James Allen and Rene Binder. .
Full schedule of the 2022 Bahrain 8 Hours sessions
Thursday 10 November 2022
Free Practice 1: 09:15-10:45 GMT (12:15-13:45 local time)
Free Practice 2: 14:30-16:00 GMT (17:30-19:00 local time)
Friday 11 November 2022
Free Practice 3: 08:00-09:00 GMT (11:00-12:00 local time)
Classification 1: 13:50-14:00 GMT (16:50-17:00 local time)
Classification 2: 14:10-14:20 GMT (17:10-17:20 local time)
Saturday 12 November 2022
Race: 11:00-19:00 GMT (14:00-22:00 local time)
#56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR – 19 LMGTE Am: Egidio Perfetti, Matteo Cairoli, Riccardo Pera
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
How can I watch the 8 Hours of Bahrain?
The Bahrain 8 Hours can be viewed via the Motorsport.tv streaming service, which provides fans with a weekly live racing schedule and on-demand content. A monthly subscription including live WEC coverage, access to the Duke Motorsport archive and the complete exclusive 24 Hours of Le Mans archive costs £4.79 or £39.99 per year.
Fans can download the official WEC app, which gives them English commentary from all sessions, as well as access to live highlights and times. Within the app, a full season package costs £23.99, allowing users to watch the live stream and access exclusive footage from the onboard camera on five devices. For more information, click here.
The race will also be available to watch via the discovery+ streaming service, which costs £6.99 per month or £59.99 per year.
Reports will follow each session on Autosport.com, with a full analysis of the race available to read on Monday.
Bahrain 8 Hours Weather Forecast
The weather is forecast to be warm and sunny throughout the Bahrain 8 hours, before night falls, with a very slight chance of rain and highs of 32 degrees Celsius.