Bahrain WEC: Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez head Toyota 1-2

The #7 Toyota crew of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez has moved closer to winning the FIA World Endurance Championship title after securing a dominant victory in the 6 Hours of Bahrain.

Conway, Kobayashi and Lopez, who also won August's Le Mans 24 Hours, led home the sister #8 crew of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley for a Toyota 1-2 after a relatively uneventful race in the desert.

Buemi started the race from the front after Hartley secured pole on Friday, but the #7 car soon proved to have the upper hand on pace and tyre wear.

With the Bahrain International Circuit only having one medium to high-speed left-hander, Toyota decided to only change the left-hand side tyres where possible to reduce pitstop times.

The drivers of the #8 car appeared to struggle more with wear, however, and when the car appeared in the lead after the first pitstop cycle it was ordered to let the quicker #7 car through. The #8 crew lost another 17 seconds in the second half of the race due to a slow stop.

Kobayashi led the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid across the line with a 50-second lead over Nakajima in the #8 car, taking the third consecutive Bahrain win for the #7 entry.

Toyota also officially secured its teams' world title, while Conway, Kobayashi and Lopez will head into next weekend's season finale as the title favourites.

The only remaining Hypercar entry, the #36 Alpine A480-Gibson, finished one lap behind in third. As has been the case all season, its shorter stint lengths prevented the French manufacturer from mounting any sort of challenge on the Toyotas.

As usual the LMP2 class was the pick of the bunch, with an excellent battle between WRT, JOTA and United Autosports livening up the race.

The Le Mans winning #31 WRT Oreca of Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi led for long spells of the early race after Frijns drove to the front from seventh on the grid.

They were soon challenged by the #22 United Autosports Oreca of Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer, while the #28 JOTA Oreca of Stoffel Vandoorne, Tom Blomqvist and Sean Gelael also recovered from a nightmare start to slot back into the top three.

In the polesitting car Gelael dropped from first to fifth on the first lap and then lost further ground after a spin, but after two hours the entry was back in the hunt.

Vandoorne and Blomqvist worked the #28 back up to second as United's challenge faded in the final third, but JOTA was unable to prevent the Belgian WRT outfit from winning its second WEC race on the bounce and taking the LMP2 championship lead.

Blomqvist finished second, one minute behind Frijns, while the second of the JOTAs, the #38 car of Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson and Robert Gonzalez passed United's Albuquerque to finish third a further 15 seconds in arrears.

Behind Albuquerque the #29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca of Giedo Van der Garde, Job van Uitert and Frits van Eerd took the Pro/Am honours after Van der Garde briefly led the opening stint thanks to another trademark rocket start.

Porsche 1-2 in GTE Pro

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - 19: Kevin Estre, Neel Jani

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - 19: Kevin Estre, Neel Jani

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

In a depleted four car GTE Pro class the two works Porsches easily had the measure of the AF Corse Ferraris.

The #92 Porsche GTE 911 RSR-19 of Kevin Estre and Neel Jani led all race, with the #91 entry of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz comfortably slotting in behind in close formation.

That caused some angst in the Porsche garage as Lietz asked the team if he was allowed to pass, but the Austrian was told to hold station as both cars were conserving tyres.

In the #51 Ferrari GTE 488 Evo Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado took a distant podium, over 35s behind, beating their stablemates Daniel Serra and Miguel Molina in the #52 car.

Estre and Jani also took over the GTE Pro championship lead from Pier Guidi and Calado.

The TF Sport Aston Martin of Felipe Fraga, Dylan Pereira and Ben Keating edged a hard-fought GTE Am battle.

Aboard the #33 Aston Fraga was hounded in the closing stages by the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche of Matt Campbell and the Team Project 1 Porsche of Matteo Cairoli but sealed the win to give TF Sport a chance to challenge the #83 AF Corse crew to the title in the season finale.

The 2021 WEC season will reach its conclusion next weekend at the same venue with the Bahrain 8 Hours.

Watch all FIA World Endurance Championship races live on Motorsport.tv. Click here for more information.

6 Hours of Bahrain - Race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Interval
1 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR
2 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 51.401
3 36 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
Alpine A480 HYPERCAR 1 Lap
4 31 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 4 Laps
5 28 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'01.872
6 38 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 14.427
7 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Oreca 07 LMP2 7.970
8 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
Netherlands Job Van Uitert
Oreca 07 LMP2 2 Laps
9 1 Germany Sophia Flörsch
Netherlands Beitske Visser
France Gabriel Aubry
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'23.995
10 70 Switzerland Esteban Garcia
France Loic Duval
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 0.234
11 20 Denmark Dennis Andersen
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Poland Robert Kubica
Oreca 07 LMP2 1 Lap
12 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Oreca 07 LMP2 2 Laps
13 92 France Kevin Estre
Switzerland Neel Jani
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 1 Lap
14 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 0.690
15 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 35.134
16 52 Brazil Daniel Serra
Spain Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 2.125
17 33 United States Ben Keating
Luxembourg Dylan Pereira
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 2 Laps
18 77 Germany Christian Ried
Australia Jaxon Evans
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 5.553
19 56 Norway Egidio Perfetti
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Italy Riccardo Pera
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 3.110
20 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Brazil Augusto Farfus
Brazil Marcos Gomes
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 17.148
21 44 Slovakia Miro Konopka
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
India Kush Maini
Oreca 07 LMP2 17.748
22 83 France François Perrodo
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Italy Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 44.473
23 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
United Kingdom Tom Gamble
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1 Lap
24 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 22.167
25 85 Switzerland Rahel Frey
Belgium Sarah Bovy
United Kingdom Katherine Legge
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 2.598
26 57 Japan Takeshi Kimura
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
Australia Scott Andrews
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1 Lap
27 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Italy Antonio Fuoco
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'36.730
28 777 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
United Kingdom Andrew Watson
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1 Lap
29 60 Italy Rino Mastronardi
Italy Andrea Piccini
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 53.712
30 21 Sweden Henrik Hedman
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Oreca 07 LMP2 3 Laps
31 88 United Arab Emirates Khaled Al Qubaisi
Belgium Adrien de Leener
France Julien Andlauer
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 28.620
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