After the team of the Toyota GR010 Hybrid with starting number 7 had extended their lead in the championship to 16 points with the pole position in qualifying on Friday, they only needed to see the checkered flag as a classified finisher to be the first ever champion in the Hypercar era to become the WEC.
Although victory at the end of the season of the 8 Hours of Bahrain remained unattainable, a second place was enough for Kobayashi, Lopez and Conway to complete the double of the 24 Hours of Le Mans / WEC for the first time in their WEC careers.
Conway led the early stages of the race from pole position after the fast-charging # 36 Alpine A480 Gibson retired, but was asked by Toyota to hand over the position to a faster Buemi at the beginning of the second hour.
The two Toyotas would not be embroiled in a wheel-to-wheel battle for the remainder of the eight-hour competition, with the gap between the two cars being seven seconds at the finish.
The outgoing Nakajima drove the checkered flag in the victorious Toyota # 8 and said goodbye to the championship in style with three overall victories at Le Mans and the 2018/19 LMP1 title.
Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andre Negrao finished third in the # 36 Alpine, six laps behind.
Although Lapierre was able to overtake both Conway at Buemi at the start with a breathtaking start from third on the grid, his lead was short-lived as both Toyotas overtook him again before the end of lap 10.
Lapierre was almost 30 seconds behind the leading hypercars when he suddenly slowed down on lap 25 with a transmission problem. This was followed by a long drive to the Alpine garage, which ensured that Toyota ended the season with a perfect run of six wins in as many races.
Ferrari wins GTE Pro title after controversial finish
The Ferrari duo Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado controversially clinched the GTE Pro drivers’ title for the time being after the Italian refused to obey the order of the race management to let Porsche’s Michael Christensen through after a late clash between the two.
After an eventful duel between the only two brands in the class, the Porsche 911 RSR-19 with starting number 91 from Christensen, Neel Jani and Kevin Estre led the race until the last hour.
But Pier Guidi spun Christensen in the final corner after being lapped by the United LMP2 car, leaving the Porsche in second place.
Race management ordered Pier Guidi to return the position to Christensen within a few laps of the incident, but he went first to the checkered flag to provisionally secure both championships in GTE Pro for Ferrari.
Before the clash between Ferrari and Porsche on the late lap, Calado and Estre exchanged several positions in the first two stints of the race before the German manufacturer drove one lap under the first Full Course Yellow in the second hour.
Ferrari struck back just before halfway through the race with a quicker stop during another FCY period, but Estre was able to storm past Calado under braking for Turn 1 in the sixth hour. Christensen and Pier Guidi led the fight until the last hour after taking over from their respective teammates.
Daniel Serra and Miguel Molina took third place in the class in the second of the two Ferraris, Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki completed the class in the Porsche # 91.
WRT takes LMP2 title with victory
WRT’s first dream year in the prototype ranks continued when it took the title in the highly competitive LMP2 class of the WEC and further increased its success in the European Le Mans Series.
Ferdinand Habsburg, Charles Milesi and Robin Frijns secured the crown after their third win of the season in a row in the # 31 Oreca 07-Gibson.
WRT qualified poorly for the second race in a row, but Habsburg was able to storm through the field from seventh on the grid in the early stages before Frijns overtook Frits van Eerd from Racing Team Nederland in the third hour on the way to the third WRT to take the lead of the season win.
The two JOTA Orecas took second and third place in the LMP2 class, with Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez in the lead at the end of the eighth hour in starting number 38.
This was after da Costa took a bold move past Tom Blomqvist at Turn 1 in the last 10 minutes of the race.
Blomqvist, Stoffel Vandoorne and Sean Gelael drove to the last Bahrain race in second overall in the # 38 JOTA, but had to cross the finish line before WRT to have a chance for the crown.
The Pro-Am title went to Racing Team Nederland and its owner van Eerd after it was first in class and sixth among all LMP2 participants.
Van Eerd shared the car with ex-Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde – who took the overall LMP2 lead at the start – and Job van Uitert, but none of his teammates fought for the title as he raced at Monza in July missed.
AF Corse triumphs in GTE Am
AF Corse successfully defended its GTE Am title after Nicklas Nielsen, Francois Perrodo and Alessio Rovera claimed a fourth win of the season in the Ferrari # 83.
TF Sport Aston Martin were the only team that could have denied AF Corse the crown in Bahrain, but a puncture on the first lap – caused by contact with the Vantage GTE # 98 – left Ben Keating, Dylan Pereira and Felipe Fraga a mountain to rise in the rest of the race.
A broken rack, the result of a separate collision with the # 54 AF Corse Ferrari in the fifth hour, dealt the final blow to the # 33 team’s hopes for the title.
With TF Sport on their heels from the start of the race, Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and Jaxon Evans took second place in the # 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche, while Egidio Perfetti, Matteo Cairoli and Riccardo Pera completed the podium places in the # 56 Project 1Porsche.