TOYOTA GAZOO Racing seals historic Hypercar title double in Bahrain

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team, partnered by Acronis, raced to a historic Hypercar title double in Bahrain as defending World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López took the chequered flag ahead of teammates Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa.

It meant that Hartley and Buemi and Hirakawa etched their name in the record books as the first drivers to win three titles in the top category of WEC with debutant Le Mans winner Hirakawa becoming Japan’s third WEC champion after Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima.

“It’s a great feeling to end with a win; Mike and José drove a strong race and the crew performed well as they have done all year,” commented Team Principal and car #7 driver Kobayashi.

“On our car, we missed the drivers’ title but car #8 really deserved it and I am happy for them. All season the team and drivers have worked really hard, with a great team spirit, so I hope everyone can enjoy this moment and celebrate the titles.”

World Endurance Championship
8 Hours of Bahrain
Bahrain International Circuit
Sakhir, Manama, Bahrain
9th to 12th November 2022
Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Brendon Hartley (NZL) Ryo Hirakawa (JPN)

It was the #8 GR010 HYBRID of Hartley, Buemi and Hirakawa who started the day on pole after Kiwi Hartley’s mega qualifying lap on Friday, and Swiss star Buemi held position over the #93 Peugeot with López biding his time in the sister #7 machine.

The race then turned positively in TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s favour when a technical problem sidelined the #93 after two hours. It also allowed the crew to switch drivers, Hartley taking control of the #8 and Conway the #7.

As Conway continued to dial in consistently quick laps, he reeled in Hartley and took the lead halfway through the race as the sun began to set in Bahrain. And it was the British driver who took the chequered flag after two more driver changes, finishing ahead of pole sitter Hartley on another momentous day for the team.

“It feels great to win the race and be part of a one-two for the team. Congratulations to Kamui, José and the whole #7 crew who did a stellar job here, and also to car #8 on the championship, they had a really consistent, strong year so fully deserve it. Our race went very well and it was a close fight for a lot of the eight hours,” commented Conway.

But to the runners-up go the ultimate spoils of championship glory, Hartley leading the celebrations after stepping from his car.

“I am really pleased to complete the job here and win both World Championships,” commented the New Zealander. “I don’t think it has really sunk in yet that we are champions again, but I’m sure it will soon. Thanks to everyone on the team for their fantastic support all year to give us a car to win the title and Le Mans.

“Today our objective was simply to beat Alpine and secure the title; we couldn’t afford to take any risks just to get the race win. Car #7 had the pace and deserved the victory, so well done to them.”

Despite finishing second on the day, season debutant Hirakawa was understandably overjoyed on capping a memorable season with a first WEC title.

“Today we achieved everything we wanted to, so I am very happy and I will enjoy this moment with the team, who really deserve it. It doesn’t feel real yet, I need some time to get used to it,” added the Japanese.

“It has been challenging to race a Hypercar in WEC for the first time; everything was new to me. I didn’t expect to win Le Mans and the World Championship in my first year so thanks a lot to the team and my team-mates for helping me settle in and become stronger over the season.

“I was really patient in the race today because I knew the championship situation and it was just important that I didn’t take any risks. My target was to hand the car over in a strong position and I achieved that, so I was happy.”


Acronis are proud to be the official Artificial Intelligence Partner of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team, helping the team perform to the best of their capabilities through machine learning. To find out more, please click here.


Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.