The two Michelin-equipped Toyota GR010 Hybrids dominated the final round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, with Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa - the crew of its #8 car - taking victory to clinch the season's Drivers' crowns. Second and third places went to the #7 Toyota (Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez) and #50 Ferrari 499P (Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen), while the sport's very last LMGTE Am race was won by women Bovy/Gatting/Frey (Porsche/Michelin).
The #8 Toyota took advantage of a collision involving its #7 sister car and the #2 Cadillac through Turn 1 to pull out an early lead from pole position. Buemi, Hartley and Hirakawa then used the consistency of their hard-compound MICHELIN Pilot Sports to maintain a strong pace, collect the last win of the season and wrap up the chase for the Drivers' titles. For memory, Toyota claimed the Manufacturers' crown at its home race - Fuji - in September.
The crew of the #7 Toyota fought back after its initial setback to appear in second spot after two hours, a position the trio held to the flag. In their wake, the two Ferrari 499P/Michelins and Jota Hertz Team's #38 Porsche 963 delivered a thrilling scrap for the last podium place. The #50 Ferrari finally secured third when the Porsche was handed a drive-through penalty.
The race was the last FIA WEC appearance of endurance racing's LMGTE Am class which has always permitted open competition between tire brands, even though all the teams have chosen Michelin as their partner since 2018. Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey marked the occasion by becoming the first all-women crew to claim a world-class endurance-racing win in their #85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR/Michelin. Their achievement nicely bookends Porsche's victory in association with Michelin at the very first FIA WEC LMGTE Am clash at Sebring (Florida, USA), in 2012. A driver that day was Germany's Christian Ried who contested every one of the class's 85 rounds in a Porsche!
"First of all, thanks to all our partners in the Hypercar class for their contributions to what was a superb 2023 FIA WEC," said Pierre Alves, the manager of Michelin Motorsport's endurance-racing programs. "Congratulations to Toyota on claiming both the Manufacturers' and Drivers' championships, but also to Ferrari on winning Le Mans, to Peugeot, Porsche and Cadillac for their podiums, and to Vanwall and Glickenhaus for their tenacity. Thanks, as well, to all the LMGTE Am teams who put their trust in our tires since the FIA WEC's creation in 2012. And last but not least, a huge bravo to the Iron Dames drivers who provided a fitting conclusion to the LMGTE Am chapter!
"We will now turn our attention to preparing for 2024 and 2025 when we will see even more carmakers join the Hypercar battle. To this end, we return to Sakhir International Circuit on Tuesday for a test session Michelin Motorsport has organized with its partners to work on our MICHELIN Pilot Sport range for... 2025."
2023 8 Hours of Bahrain - Final positions:
Buemi/Hartley/Hirakawa (Toyota GR010 Hybrid/Michelin), 249 laps
Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez (Toyota GR010 Hybrid/Michelin), +47.516s
Fuoco/Molina/Nielsen (Ferrari 499P/Michelin), +1m36.286s
Stevens/Da Costa/Ye (Porsche 963/Michelin), +1m37.248s
Estre/Lotterer/Vanthoor (Porsche 963/Michelin), + 1 lap