With so many titles on offer in the FIA World Endurance championship, the penultimate round at the Bahrain International Circuit was bound to see a number of championships decided. However, the six-hour race proved to be a rollercoaster ride of tension and intrigue, with incidents with major title implications in the final 15 minutes!
First and foremost, the coveted FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship went to Anthony Davidson and Sébastian Buemi, whose sixth-placed finish gave them an unassailable 41-point lead going in to the final round ahead of the #2 Audi of Marcel Fässler, Benoit Tréluyer and André Lotterer. Davidson and Buemi are the third winners of the trophy in three years. Their reward is the #1 on their car for the 2015 season. It was also the first FIA world drivers’ championship for a Toyota factory team since Didier Auriol’s 1994 World Rally Championship drivers’ title.
Toyota also extended their lead in the World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship, although the mechanical gremlins in the #8 car meant that the battle will go the final round. Toyota lead Audi by 40 points, and with a maximum of 44 points on offer at Sao Paulo in two weeks’ time (one point for pole, plus a 1-2 finish), only two DNFs for the Toyota TS040s in Brazil would see Audi with any realistic chance of snatching their third manufacturers’ world title in as many years, especially given that the lowest possible points haul for two race-finishing Toyotas (fifth and sixth in class) is 18 points. If Toyota do prevail, it will be their first FIA world manufacturers’ title as a factory team since the Toyota Corolla WRC’s 1999 World Rally Championship victory.
|FIA World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship|
In the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers, Gianmaria Bruni retained his world title for the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458, this time sharing the triumph with season-long partner Toni Vilander. Only a win would have done for their only challenger, Fred Makowiecki in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR, but both Porsche Team Manthey entries ultimately struggled for pace in Bahrain and Makowiecki could only finish fifth. Victory in GTE Pro, albeit by the tiniest of margins in front of a charging Darren Turner in the #97 Aston Martin, was a fitting end for Bruni and Vilander, who took the spoils at three of the season’s six six-hour races as well as at Le Mans.
The GT manufacturers’ championship remains undecided, although Ferrari were able to extend their lead in the Middle East. They will travel to Sao Paulo needing just nine points in total from their two AF Corse GTE Pro entries, while for Porsche, the only other team with a shot at the title, only a win will do.
|FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers|
In LMP2, it’s all still up for grabs. There was major drama in both the LMP2 teams’ championship and the drivers’ championship, after the leading #27 SMP Racing Oreca-Nissan car retired from the race with just 20 minutes remaining with transmission problems. This twist of fate has opened the door for the G-Drive Racing squad, whose Ligier JS P2 Nissan recovered from an early setback in the form of a broken rear wishbone to finish third. In the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams, G-Drive Racing take an eight-point lead into the final round in Brazil. With one point awarded for pole position for each class, we could see a particularly frantic 20-minute qualifying session at Interlagos as it could make all the difference come raceday. If teams or drivers finish level on points at the end of the season, the title will be decided on the number of wins, which would give G-Drive Racing the advantage with its four wins to SMP Racing’s one.
|FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams|
In the drivers’ championship battle, Sergey Zlobin saw his hopes of winning the title go up in smoke – quite literally – with the retirement of his #27 car with just minutes of the race remaining. Thanks to 15 points for their third place, the G-Drive Racing squad of Roman Rusinov, Olivier Pla and Julien Canal now have now overtaken Zlobin and lead by eight points. It’s all to play for going into the season finale.
|FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams|
Another title decided in Bahrain was the FIA Endurance Trophy for GTE Am Drivers, which was won by David Heinemeier-Hansson and Kristian Poulsen in the all-Danish #95 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage. It was another dominant victory for this season’s Le Mans winners, and a thoroughly deserved title for the “Danish Dynamite” squad. The #95 Aston Martin Racing team also wrapped up the FIA Endurance Trophy for GTE Am Teams ahead of their teammates in the #98 entry, piloted this season by Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard.
The FIA Endurance Trophy for Private LMP1 Teams was more of a foregone conclusion this season, with Rebellion left uncontested until the arrival of the Lotus CLM P1/01 at round 4 at the Circuit of Americas. In fact, it was at this race that the #12 car driven by Mathias Beche, Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost secured both the teams and drivers titles in LMP1-L.
Full classification: https://www.fiawec.com/courses/classification.html
Image source: Walter Schruff