Porsche’s Jani, Lieb and Dumas take the title as Audi complete perfect swan song

posted in: LMGTE, LMP, Race, Report, WEC-Magazin | 0

For the sec­ond year run­ning, Porsche dri­vers take the dri­vers title after a dif­fi­cult Bahrain race. This time Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas com­plete the per­fect sea­son, with Le Mans vic­to­ry, and the FIA LMP World Dri­vers’ Cham­pi­onship. How­ev­er it was a per­fect race for Audi, as they bow out of the WEC in style with a 1–2 fin­ish.

Hour 4

The sec­ond half the race was the what seemed like the end of the race for Aston Mar­tin. First, Paul Dal­la Lana ground to a halt with an exhaust issue, seal­ing the cham­pi­onship for the AF Corse Fer­rari team in GTE-AM. Then, after a pit stop for the #97 Aston, the front right wheel was not attached prop­er­ly, which saw the wheel fall off and bring out the first full course yel­low of the race.

Then it was a bat­tle for the lead in LMP2 which grabbed the atten­tion. Pipo Derani once again pulled off a fan­tas­tic move into turn one to take the lead of the class away from the 2016 cham­pi­ons.

By the end of hour num­ber four Audi’s #8 and #7 were still in first and sec­ond respec­tive­ly. The #1 Porsche still held third place in class. Rebel­lion Rac­ing stayed lead­ing the pri­va­teer class two laps ahead of ByKolles.

LMP2 had Pipo Derani lead­ing the class ahead of the Sig­nat­e­ch Alpine team. Remark­ably, G-Dri­ve had made their way back up to third posi­tion, with Alex Brun­dle at the wheel.

Mar­co Sorensen was lead­ing in his Aston Mar­tin in GTE-PRO. AF Corse had their Ferrari’s in sec­ond and third places after the #97 Aston Mar­tin dropped down the order when their wheel fell off an hour ear­li­er. James Calado’s #51 Fer­rari led the #71 of Fel­low Brit, Sam Bird.

Abu-Dhabi Pro­ton con­tin­ued to lead in GTE-AM with KCMG in sec­ond place. The new class cham­pi­ons in their Fer­rari 458 Italia held third posi­tion.

Hour 5

As the race set­tled into it’s rythem, Audi con­tin­ued to lead the race with their #8 R18 e-tron quat­tro. The #7 car remained in sec­ond place with Timo Bern­hard sit­ting in third place, before he is due to hand over to Mark Web­ber for his final stint. Rebel­lion con­tin­ued to lead in the pri­av­teer class

Derani led LMP2 before hand­ing over to Chris Cum­ming for the final time this year. Sig­nat­e­ch Alpine were in sec­ond place with their #36 car. RGR Sport’s Ligi­er was third in class.

Nic­ki Thi­im still head­ed the GTE-PRO class for Aston Mar­tin as the Dane Tri­an edged clos­er to the dri­vers’ title. Bruni and Rigon had their Ferrari’s in sec­ond and third respec­tiv­ley as they looked to tak­ing the GTE man­u­fac­tures title. GTE-AM remained a Abu-Dhabi Pro­ton, KCMG, Porsche 1–2. AF Corse’s lat­est cham­pi­ons in third

Final Hour

The final hour set up a big chal­lenge for the lead­ing dri­ver, Loic Duval. Rub­ber pick up on the front of the R18 e-tron quat­tro meant that the aero dynam­ics were com­pro­mised, and tires were used much heav­ier than need­ed, forc­ing Duval to pre­serve the tires and there­fore loos­ing time to the rest of the pack. It was game on for one last time at Audi.

The Audi bat­tle took a turn with­in the final 50 min­utes, when Audi Sport Team Joest pulled of a sub­lime final pit stop, which saw new tires going on the #8 car, erad­i­cat­ing the issue Duval had at the start of the hour.

On the note of last times, a reflec­tive Mark Web­ber clam­bered aboard his Porsche 919 Hybrid for his final dri­ve a pro­fes­sion­al rac­ing dri­ver.

It was the per­fect farewell for Audi as their R18 e-tron quat­tros crossed the line for the final time in first and sec­ond posi­tions, prov­ing that Audi are still at the top of their game. The #8 Audi of Oliv­er Jarvis, Loic Duval and Lucas di Gras­si had the hon­ors of stand­ing on the top step ahead of Audi leg­ends Andre Lot­ter­er, Mar­cel Fassler and Beniot Tre­luy­er. Third place went to the out going world cham­pi­ons Timo Bern­hard, Bren­don Hart­ley and Mark Web­ber in his final race, repeat­ing the feat of a cer­tain Tom Kris­tensen, as a an out­go­ing world cham­pi­on to get third in his final race.

Toyota’s #5 and #6 fin­ished fourth and fifth, how­ev­er despite beat­ing them on the road, that was not enough to take the world cham­pi­onship. Porsche’s Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani fin­ish­ing sixth, but cru­cial­ly claim­ing the dri­vers’ world cham­pi­onship despite not fin­ish­ing on the podi­um since Le Mans.

Rene Rast stared for G-Dri­ve tak­ing the win from RGR Sport in the last 20 min­utes. Remark­ably, in Audi’s final race that fin­ished 1–2 for them, their two man­u­fac­ture dri­vers that have been placed in LMP2 fin­ished first and sec­ond in their class. Rast ahead of Albu­querque. The years world cham­pi­ons in LMP2 gained third place in the race.

Mar­co Sorensen and Nic­ki Thi­im wrapped up the dri­vers world cham­pi­onship in style with a race win in the GTE-PRO class. James Cal­a­do and Sam Bird fin­ished the race in their #51 and #71 Fer­raris in sec­ond and third respec­tive­ly, which earned Fer­rari the teams cham­pi­onship.

Abu-Dhabi Pro­ton won their home race in GTE-AM ahead of KCMG and the GTE-AM World Cham­pi­ons at AF Corse Fer­rari.

On a seper­ate note, WEC-Mag­a­zin would like to thank all the teams for a stun­ning year of rac­ing in the FIA World Endurance Cham­pi­onship. Thank you Audi for a per­fect 18 years of rac­ing, and thank you Mark Web­ber for a stun­ning career. We have enjoyed it huge­ly. I’m sure we’ll see you soon.

Images: WEC-Mag­a­zin