Read who impressed WEC TV co-commentator Anthony Davidson in the final 2022 event at the Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain…..
Hypercar – Sebastien Buemi
Kamui (Kobayashi) was excellent but I think it was more that Ryo Hirakawa lost some time compared to the No.7 when Kamui was driving and extending the gap in that third hour stage of the race.
I spoke to Nakajima after the race and he had told Hirkawa to just bring the car home and don’t do anything too heroic, so I think he was under a few instructions to back off a bit for the title.
With that in mind, I think Conway and Buemi, were the stand-out drivers in Bahrain.
When you think the No.8 Toyota clearly had a problem and would always lose ground to No.7, you have to look back at the start of the race and Buemi extending a gap over Lopez up to around four and a half seconds was impressive.
I saw the gap grow there and then when Seb got back into the car for the final stint the gap stayed similar. So, I do think that he was my driver of the day in Hypercar but its close because Mike (Conway) was super quick too.
Buemi’s performance doesn’t stand out that much because the car was slower than No.7, and they were battling understeer, particularly as the race continued. But somehow Seb managed to drive around that problem better than anyone else in his car crew.
I felt that Conway drove a really polished race as well, but just because of the problems that car No.8 was facing, I would just tip it to Buemi.
LMGTE Pro – James Calado
This was dramatic in a whole other way [to 2021] but it was still fantastic to watch.
Calado had quite a conservative start to the race. He complained about the rear tyres dropping away and was driving very carefully trying to protect them.
Just on pure speed, Antonio Fuoco, for me, was the fastest in that race, he looked well in the groove. But Calado had so many other issues to deal with and approached it all in such a cool, calm and collective way.
When the issue arose for James he was really professional. I’ve been in that situation before where something nasty happens to the car and you have to figure it out yourself. It is super stressful but you have to stay calm.
The engineers can do very little at that time to guide you and to help you figure out how to battle, what is basically a dying gearbox.
He didn’t freak out, he didn’t swear on the radio as far as I’m aware, he didn’t vent that much, which was really impressive, and he was able to demonstrate to Pier Guidi exactly what to do with the gearbox and how to drive it.
Pier Guidi jumped in and took to the task immediately and repeat what James was doing. But figuring it out, that was the impressive part, and keeping his cool too.
It was really nail-biting stuff and to be rewarded with becoming World Champions must have been super sweet but most of all a massive relief.
LMP2 – Sean Gelael
I definitely did think the JOTA strategy was risky in this race. I made sure I told Antonio (Felix da Costa) off after the race, but it was brilliant entertainment. Yet, the wheel banging I thought was unnecessary.
I spoke to them before the race and they all said, ‘we’re approaching this race just like any other,’ and that’s exactly what I saw. I didn’t see them backing out, I didn’t see them driving defensively, they were on the offensive and pushing every single lap of the race.
That’s what worked for them so far, up to that point in the championship and winning Le Mans, then why change a good thing?
They rolled with it and it completely worked in their favour; they were once again on the podium, so fair play. I was well impressed with the job Roberto did all season long, a true silver, and some real stand out performances. Bravo mate!
Honestly, it’s remarkable how this current crop of excellent teams have pushed the limits in LMP2. I was involved in the decision to take Will (Stevens) on board at the end of last year and I did say to Sam (Hignett) and ‘Clarky’ (David Clark) ‘if you want to win Le Mans you’ve got to put Will in the car.
I’m glad that I could leave them and retire and hand over somebody so capable, as Will, to bring it home.
In addition to the Jota guys, Sean Gelael was blindingly fast at the start as well. I raved about Roberto’s performance in Le Mans, but I think Gelael had a standout performance in Bahrain, I really do, so he’s my choice this time.
I’d say it was the race of his season in Bahrain. But the car is so fast and fair play to Gelael, because he was excellent and the star of the show really from a ‘silver’ point of view.
LMGTE Am – Matteo Cairoli
The Iron Dames Ferrari was very quick at the start of the race and I thought once again all three of Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy and Rahel Frey all looked excellent.
They couldn’t quite match their Fuji result. But still, a podium rounded off a brilliant season when they really put themselves and the Iron Dames crew on the map.
It’s so hard to figure out that category sometimes because the likes of Matteo Cairoli and Nicki Thiim get in there and they’re so much faster than anyone else, so you don’t know whether it’s going to all shift around by the end.
I find it particularly hard to follow this category because it’s so up and down depending on which driver ranking is behind the wheel at the time.
On the whole you’d have to say that Cairoli was exceptional again and his teammates, Leutwiler and Pedersen were both really impressive also.
A shout out to Ben Barnicoat, who I think has shown some really top performances this season. It was nice to see him getting a podium in the final race as I’m not sure his races have been suitably rewarded this season.