Toyota celebrated a spectacular finish to the 2022 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season recently with a one-two victory at 8 Hours of Bahrain that saw the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team achieve a clean sweep of this year’s FIA WEC titles. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López claimed their second win of the season in the No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar, enabling Toyota to be crowned as Hypercar Manufacturers’ World Champions.
Teammates Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa finished second to become Drivers’ World Champions, adding to their 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans win. Buemi and Hartley write their names in the record books as the first drivers to win three titles in the top WEC category and its predecessor, the World Sportscar Championship. Hirakawa also capped a remarkable rookie season by becoming Japan’s third WEC champion.
A perfect result in Bahrain was a fitting end to a highly successful season for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, which now has a fifth world title double from 10 years of WEC competition, adding to achievements in 2022 that include a fifth-consecutive Le Mans win and eighth victory at Fuji Speedway. Success in the WEC ensured the team won every available title in the three FIA series it participated in this season; the World Endurance, World Rally, and World Rally Raid Championships.
The race began under bright sunshine, with air temperatures of 35°C and equally hot on-track action. Buemi led from pole position in the No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar, while López began the race in third place in the No. 8 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar. Just six seconds separated the top three cars when the opening pit stops arrived, during which López leapfrogged into second place.
After two hours, both GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercars swapped drivers with Hartley taking over the No. 8 and Conway getting behind the wheel of the No. 7. The two Hypercars battled throughout this period of the race, separated by less than a second until Conway took the lead early in the fourth hour as the sun set over Bahrain International Circuit. He continued to push hard to build a gap and at half distance led by a few seconds going into the next pit stops, when Kobayashi took the wheel. Kobayashi gradually extended the No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar’s advantage to 15 seconds by the end of the fifth hour, before López and Buemi returned to their respective cockpits with less than two hours remaining.
Further driver changes with 45 minutes to go left Conway to take the chequered flag in the No. 7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar, finishing 45.471 secs clear of Hartley in the No. 8 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar. This triggered title celebrations to bring the curtain down on an exciting Hypercar season after 58 hours of competition covering 10,620 km since the first race in Sebring eight months ago.
Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation and TGR Team Founder, commented: “On the weekend that we had two world championship events for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, there are so many things I would like to say. First of all, we were able to achieve five World Championship titles so it was a great season for us. Séb, Brendon, Ryo, and the whole No. 8 team, congratulations on the title! Kamui, Mike, José, and the No. 7 team, congratulations on your win in the final round! Kamui and I have been communicating with each other. I am truly grateful to him for his efforts as team principal, as a driver, and for his help for the future of motorsports. Thank you so much also to our fans and partners who have been supporting us.”
Over the years, Toyota has been participating in many different forms of motorsports, including Formula One, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota’s participation in these events was overseen by separate entities within the company until April 2015, when Toyota established TGR to consolidate all of its motorsports activities under one in-house brand. Representing Toyota’s belief that ‘the roads build the people, and the people build the cars,’ TGR highlights the role of motorsports as a fundamental pillar of Toyota’s commitment to making ‘ever-better’ cars. Harnessing years of experience gained under the extreme conditions of motorsports events, TGR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.