TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR) brought the curtain down on a thrilling 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season with a one-two victory in the 8 Hours of Bahrain, confirming its fifth World Championship drivers’ title. Additionally, Toyota secured its manufacturers’ title, marking the perfect conclusion to an exciting season which featured fierce challenges from the motorsports world’s top competitors.
First-place winners Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa clinched their second consecutive drivers' World Championship in their No.8 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar. Buemi and Hartley also made history by securing their fourth drivers' title each, while Hirakawa claimed titles in WEC’s 2022 and 2023 seasons. Meanwhile, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and José María López battled to secure second place in the championship in the No.7 GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercar.
Akio Toyoda, TGR Chairman, commented: “The “battle of athletes” that the two TOYOTA GAZOO Racing cars fought until the end was the best. Thank you to the six drivers, and the mechanics and engineers of both cars for a wonderful race. Congratulations to Sebastien, Brendon and Ryo for their second consecutive driver's title! Thank you also to Kamui, Jose, and Mike in car No.7 who made it a one-two!”
Toyoda added, “The main characters of motorsports are the people behind the wheel. That's what makes it a sport, and I believe that everyone who takes part is an athlete and a fighter. This year's WEC has seen an increase in rivals, making it the “battle field” that fans have been waiting for. At the championship finale, today's athletes showed how they are giving their all to get the result. As a fan, I was very excited to see this. We would also like to thank the organizers for creating an environment where athletes can compete. I hope that next season we will continue to put forward a driver-first approach, led by Kamui, and we can make the team stronger.”
Buemi led from pole position and his consistent speed allowed him to build an advantage over the competition for top spot. Despite an accident that knocked Conway to the back of the field early-on, he was able to pull off a series of decisive overtaking maneuvers and two stunning overtakes at the one-hour mark to return to the top three. During the second hour, Buemi stretched his lead further while Conway closed in on second place. Just before the start of hour three, Conway handed the No.7 to Kobayashi, who quickly set a new fastest lap and moved into second.
Hartley took the wheel of the No.8 and led the race as darkness fell, with Kobayashi around half a minute behind. Precise driving through the lapped traffic saw the situation stabilize at the front and, at half distance, López and Hirakawa began their stints with the GR010 Hybrid Electric Hypercars running comfortably in first and second.
Kobayashi and Hartley took over for the final hour of the race. With a 40-second advantage in the lead, Hartley guided the No.8 safely through the closing laps while Kobayashi set the race’s fastest lap.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing brought the 2023 season to an end after seven events, 64 hours of racing and six wins, including four one-twos, to take the team’s tally to 45 victories since its WEC debut in 2012.
Toyota presented its multi-pathway approach to hundreds of motorsports fans at a dedicated booth during 8 Hours of Bahrain. This approach encompasses a diverse range of eco-friendly vehicle technologies, catering to global market needs, including the Toyota Mirai and the GR lineup. These events affirm Toyota's commitment to achieving a carbon-neutral society and creating a more sustainable future, both on and off the racetrack.
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 various motorsports events, TGR aims to forge new technologies and solutions that bring the freedom, adventure, and joy of driving to everyone.