The provisional entry list for the final race on the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship calendar, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, features 36 competitors across three categories.
Round 7 on the 2023 schedule will be the 8 Hours of Bahrain on 4 November, which will conclude this year’s season.
It will also be the final race in which the WEC’s LMP2 category will participate in the championship, aside from future 24 Hours of Le Mans races.
Furthermore, the same applies to the GTE class, which will be replaced by LMGT3 next year, based on the widely-renowned FIA GT3-specification formula.
A total list of 36 entries are expected to compete at the Bahrain International Circuit, across three categories: Hypercar, LMP2 and GTE-Am.
Hypercar: 12 entries
Cadillac Racing have their single #2 V Series.R LMDh, with drivers Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook sitting fifth in the standings.
Vanwall has only named Esteban Guerrieri and Tristan Vautier in their line-up, with one driver more to-be-confirmed.
Porsche Penske will have their #5 and #6 963 LMDh cars, aiming for another fighting chance against the Toyota team after challenging them and finishing on their first WEC podium at Fuji Speedway, whilst the #5 sibling car are looking for redemption after they suffered a power-steering failure.
Toyota GAZOO Racing claimed the Hypercar Manufacturers’ Championship last time out on home soil, their third consecutive since the Hypercar era began in 2021, adding onto their dominant form when the LMP1 class ended.
The #8 GR010 Hybrid crew who finished second at Le Mans lead the Drivers’ standings on 133 points, ahead of the #7 crew who are on 118 points.
JOTA continue their efforts with the Porsche 963 with Antonio Felix da Costa, Will Stevens, and Yifei Ye.
Ferrari AF Corse will bring their two 499P LMHs to the venue for the first time, as the Le Mans-winning #51 crew sit third in the Drivers’ standings on 102 points, and the #50 closely trails them on 97 points.
Peugeot Sport are looking for a strong result in Bahrain, after last year claiming fifth and a DNF, with their two 9X8 LMHs.
The other Porsche customer WEC team are Proton Competition, who are targeting a more fruitful third race after they claimed ninth in Fuji, which was the first classified finish after the DNF at Monza.
LMP2: 11 entries
The LMP2 grid of Oreca 07-Gibsons has proved a worthy display of racing over the years in the WEC, and this will be their final known appearance in the championship at Bahrain.
As per usual, four teams will be represented with two cars each: Alpine Elf Team, Prema Racing, Team WRT, and United Autosports.
The #41 WRT crew leads the Drivers’/Teams’ standings on 133 points, after successfully furthering their championship lead in Fuji with a win.
Inter Europol Competition drivers Jakub Śmiechowski, Fabio Scherer and Albert Costa won the Centenary Le Mans in June, and after only finishing ninth (2 points) at Fuji, are still the main rivals to the #41 for the championship title(s).
Alpine, Prema and WRT intend to continue their WEC efforts next year in the Hypercar category with the Alpine A480, BMW M Hybrid V8, and Lamborghini SC63 LMDh cars.
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Until then in Bahrain, a close fight awaits in the ultra competitive LMP2 class, featuring some of the WEC’s most capable and talented drivers.
Mirko Bortolotti, driving the #63 Prema, missed the two previous races amidst his ongoing DTM campaign where he has maintained a prominent role as a championship title protagonist, and will conclude his 2023 DTM efforts next month at the Hockenheimring.
LMGTE Am: 13 entries
The final race of the season will also be the last time GTE cars will race in anger and competition, after the confirmation of LMGT3 earlier in the year.
The #33 Corvette Racing team have dominated the field this year, securing the Teams’ Title earlier at Monza, and finished second at Fuji Speedway.
They are expected to show strong form in Bahrain, at the very least with Ben Keating’s qualifying pace putting themselves in strong qualifying positions.
The #33 Corvette led early on at Fuji – Image: XPB
Two drivers have yet to be confirmed in the #21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, a car which will likely see its final outing as the 296 GT3 will take over representing Ferraris across international GT commitments.
The Iron Dames #85 Porsche 911 RSR-19 has yet to claim a win after Sarah Bovy has claimed multiple pole positions this season.
Since claiming their first European Le Mans Series GTE win in 2022, their aims remain high for their final race with the Porsche GTE car.
One other (Bronze-rated) driver is yet to be confirmed in the #777 D’Station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE line-up, who will share driving duties with teammates Casper Stevenson and Tomonobu Fujii.
The Japanese team have struggled this season, obtaining four championship points across three points-scoring instances, which confided them to the bottom of the standings, so Bahrain will present an optimistic WEC push for a top-five finish in their GTE car.
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