Now-four World Endurance Champion Brendon Hartley reflected on a sensational season after the #8 Toyota’s dominant run to victory in Bahrain, crowning them as champions.
Brendon Hartley, along with his #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid teammates Sebastien Buemi – who also became a four-time champion – and Ryo Hirakawa, they took a back-to-back 2023 Hypercar Drivers’ Championship after winning the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
Hartley qualified the #8 on pole ahead of Team Principal Kamui Kobayashi, with a lap time of 1:46.564, almost five-tenths ahead of the #7.
Drama at the beginning saw the #7 driven by Mike Conway turned around by Earl Bamber in the #2 Cadillac V Series.R, which gave the upper hand to the #8’s title chances.
“It has been an amazing year,” said Hartley.
“I am really proud to be part of the #8 crew and this Toyota GAZOO Racing team. Thanks to everyone for a fantastic season.
“We have had some fierce battles with car #7 and the other Hypercar competitors all year and today was no different.
“There were times when we were not the fastest car on the track so we were really pushing.
“Seb [Buemi] had the most stressful part of the race today, getting through the first corner cleanly but he and Ryo [Hirakawa] did a great job.
“Becoming a four-time World Champion is probably going to take a while to sink in, but it sounds really nice.”
At Le Mans, the two Toyotas were differed dramatically in the championship points tally, as the #8 crew finished second and collected 36 points whereas the #7 retired after being involved in an incident.
Despite Conway’s start, he asserted promising race pace to quickly climb back up the order and into Hypercar-podium contention past the two Ferraris.
The #8 were unchallenged throughout the Bahrain finale, having finished almost a minute ahead of the second-placed #7 crew.
In spite of that, the Toyota encountered sensor and powertrain issues with their Hypercars which was masked by their dominant race performance.
The New Zealander took the seat Fernando Alonso vacated for the 2019-20 season, and drew on existing expertise and success from winning Le Mans and two world championships during his Porsche WEC seat from 2014-17.
Since then, he has taken his second consecutive title with Toyota as the Portimao round was the only other race they won, although continued Toyota’s renowned and regular podium appearances.