The 8H of Bahrain was not only the last race of the FIA WEC 2023 season for Matteo Cairoli but also the one of the LMGTE cars era. The driver from Como, a protagonist with Porsche since ever in the GT class, after participating in the last ELMS race with Iron Lynx, was back at the wheel of Project 1 – AO’s car to complete his 2023 season together with his two American teammates, PJ Hyett and Gunnar Jeannett.
It was a pretty tough weekend that started with a sandstorm during the first free practice session, stopped, and later restarted with more time added to stay on track until rain started pouring down, making the teams and drivers’ work wasted. During the second free practice session in the night Jeannett crashed and made the set-up work pretty difficult over the weekend. In FP3, Cairoli was the fastest in the LMGTE Am class, and some time later Hyett qualified the team tenth.
While placing the car on the grid, Hyett crossed the white line, forcing “Rexy” to receive a drive-through penalty in the first hour of the race. After the second racing hour, Cairoli and Gunnar Jeannette took turns at the wheel, with the driver from Como crossing the finish line tenth after a two-hour comeback for the points zone. With 36 points, Project 1 – AO conquered eleventh place in the championship standings, while Cairoli ended fourteenth in the drivers one.
“The weekend in Bahrain was pretty sad because we saw the retirement of what was the best car I’ve ever driven in my career. The LMGTE cars wrote a part of GT world history, and it will have the same status as Group B in rally. They were incredible cars with amazing performances and gave unbelievable feelings, which entertained me both on track and from the screens when I dreamt of Le Mans in front of the TV before actually getting the chance to drive there. The weekend was tough because, contrary to expectations, we had to face unexpected weather conditions such as the rain in the desert and the sandstorm. We also put some of our own in it as we had a crash in FP2, but the guys in the team did incredible work in building back the car during the night. I had fun during the race, we tried something different, which actually helped performance-wise, but we were too much time behind and couldn’t fight for the top spots. I really want to thank Project 1 – AO for this season together and PJ and Gunnar, who have been my teammates for the most of the time this season. The GT world will now face a huge generational change, which will for sure be a great starting point for the future.”