Brendon Hartley and driving partners Ryo Hirakawa and Sebastien Buemi have won the World Endurance Championship drivers title for the second consecutive year with a dominant victory in this morning’s 8 Hours of Bahrain.
Heading into the race with a 16-point advantage over their teammates after Hartley qualified on pole on Saturday, Buemi avoided the Lap 1 chaos to build a commanding lead that they would only briefly relinquish during pit cycles.
The #7 sister car of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez finished as runner-up but were on the back foot immediately after being spun out of second at Turn 1 on the opening lap.
The contact came from Cadillac Racing’s Earl Bamber, who locked up entering the corner and tagged the rear of the #7. Bamber was stung with a 60-second stop-go penalty for the incident, which he and teammates Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook ultimately never recovered from to finish 11th.
Following the spin, Conway worked his way through the field to sit third by the end of the first hour, but the damage had been done as Buemi had pulled a 30-second gap.
Hartley and Hirakawa would slowly build on this lead throughout the racing, coming home 47 seconds ahead to claim the title.
The #50 Ferrari of Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen finished third, ahead of Porsche 963 customers Hertz Team Jota.
The Porsche Penske Motorsport entry of Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor finished fifth, with the Le Mans-winning #51 Ferrari AF Corse of James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi and Alessandro Pier Guidi coming home sixth.
The title is Hartley’s fourth, following success with Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard in 2015, Bamber and Bernhard in 2017 and last year’s success with Hirakawa and Buemi.
The #8 Toyota only won two races this year compared to their teammate’s four, but were benefactors at the double-points round of the 24 Hours of Le Mans after the #7 failed to finish.
Their other success came in the 6 Hours of Portimao, and they finished as runner-up in the 1000 Miles of Sebring, 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, 24 Hours of Le Mans and 6 Hours of Fuji.
Header Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing