Updated: Nov 7, 2022
This Saturday in Bahrain, the 2022 FIA WEC campaign will come to an end with the sixth race of the season. After Sebring, Spa, Le Mans, Monza and Fuji, the flag falls for the final time in the Sakhir desert and champions will be crowned. Who still have a chance of winning the titles in the four different classes?
The title race in the top category of the WEC couldn't be tighter, as after Fuji the driver crews of the #8 Toyota (Hartley, Hirakawa and Buemi) and the #36 Alpine (Negrão, Vaxivière and Lapierre) are exactly tied at 121 points. Hartley, Hirakawa and Buemi won the last race in Fuji while the Alpine finished third, but the race before in Monza was won by Negrão, Vaxivière and Lapierre. The #36 also scored a victory at the opening race in Sebring, while the #8 won the most important race of the season at Le Mans.
Historically, Toyota is well known to winning in Bahrain, with no less than 7 wins and 12 podiums on their honors list. Alpine (and the Signatech, the team Alpine originated from), has never won the race in Sakhir.
The #7 Toyota of Mike Conway, Kobayashi and Lopez still has a theoretical chance of crowning themselves champions, put with 95 points, 26 less than the front runners, their chances are slim.
The highest class in GT racing will have its last ever race in Bahrain, as the GT Pro class will not return for the 2023 WEC season. Porsche and Ferrari would have left the class anyway by the end of 2022, to focus on their LMDh and Hypercar programs respectively. This would have left Chevrolet, with their C8.R as the sole competitor in 2023, and thus the ACO decided to scrap the class all together.
The battle in Bahrain will be between the #51 Ferrari of Pier Guidi and Calado, the #92 Porsche of Estre and Christensen and #91 sister car of Bruni and Lietz. The crew of the Prancing Horse has gathered 120 points over the season, with wins in Spa and Fuji, while Estre and Christensen dominated the opening race at Sebring and are at a total of 109 points. Bruni and Lietz are mostly still in contention after winning the season's blue ribbon event at Le Mans. They also climbed the podium at Sebring and consistently finished the other races in the points. Bruni is at 106 points, Lietz is 10 points down on Bruni after missing the round at Fuji.
Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner are a bit behind at 75 points and out of contention for the title. The 50 points they dramatically lost in the last stages of the 24 hours of Le Mans, being catapulted out of the race by the #50 AF Corse LMP2 car, would have put them right up there with the Ferrari's and Porsches, at a 125 points...
JOTA Sport is only a whisker away from securing the title in the LMP2 category. Stevens, Gonzalez and Felix da Costa in the #38 defend a 28 points lead over Pierson and Jarvis in #23 United Autosports Oreca. The #38 was only victorious at Le Mans, but finished on the podium in 3 (Spa, Monza and Fuji) out of the 4 other races, while still scoring good points at Sebring. Pierson and Jarvis won that opening race in Florida, but didn't manage to hold on to that form and scored only a couple of points in the other races. Retirements and 0-point finishes also put other crews out of reach of the title like the #31 WRT crew of Galeal and Frijns, who won the rounds at Spa and Fuji, and finished 2nd at Sebring, and the #41 WRT of Habsburg, Nato and Andrade who won the race at Monza.
Last but not least is the GT Am title, which will go to an Aston Martin crew, either the #33 of Keating, Christensen and Chaves (the latter is not in contention after missing Sebring) or the #98 of Thiim, Pittard and Dalla Lana. The #33 TF Sport is leading the #98 by 20 points after their wins in Le Mans and Fuji, while the #98 won the opening race in Sebring. The #77 Proton Porsche also won two races (Spa and Monza), but disappointing results in Le Mans and Fuji left the crew with only 77 points.
Text & Images: Rick Kiewiet