WEC - Champions Crowned as Audi Score Dominant Victory in Final Race | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WEC - Champions Crowned as Audi Score Dominant Victory in Final Race

19.11.16

WEC -  2016 6 Hours of Bahrain - Race Report

FIA, Motorsport, Mobility, Road Safety, F1, WRC, WEC, WTCC, World RX

The 6 Hours of Bahrain was full of drama and emotion as the FIA World Endurance Championship prepared to say goodbye to Audi and Mark Webber. 

At the end of the final race of the 2016 season it was the no8 Audi crew of Lucas Di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis, who had started from pole position, who were standing on the top step of the podium, with their teammates from the no7 crew alongside them on the second step. 

It was a race long battle between the two Audis as each car took turns to lead the race, with the no1 Porsche keeping them honest throughout.  The no7 Audi lost time when they had a problem with a tyre change and then the no8 had to pit for a new nose cone after debris built up which affected the aero and the handling of the car.  In the end it was the no8 car that had the advantage and Lucas Di Grassi brought the car home to claim their second victory in 2016 and also set a new lap record for the Bahrain circuit.

Mark Webber joined Porsche teammates Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard on the final step of the podium as the 2015 World Champion ended his illustrious career on a highnote.

However all eyes were on the no2 Porsche 919 crew of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani as they added the 2016 FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship title to the 24 Hours of Le Mans crown they won in June.  They finished the race in 6th place, after losing time following a clash with the LMGTE Am class KCMG Porsche, which damaged the rear wheel and tyre, forcing Jani to make an unscheduled pitstop in the opening hour of the race. 

The two Toyotas were 5th and 6th with the no5 car leading home the sister TS050 one lap behind the top three cars and unable to challenge the Audis or the Porsches.

Ferrari were crowned champions in the FIA World Cup for Manufacturers after the two AF Corse F488s finished second and third at the end of the 6 hour race, giving them the title over Aston Martin at the end of the 2016 season.  The no51 Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado finished a lap ahead of the no71 F488 of teammates Sam Bird and Davide Rigon.

While Ferrari claimed the manufacturers’ title it was the Danish duo Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen who claimed the drivers title with a hard fought victory in the no95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage.  The ‘Dane Train’ was fighting with their teammates in the no97 Aston Martin early in the race but Jonny Adam was forced to pit after the front right wheel detached.  The damage took time to repair and the no97 car rejoined with a lot of ground to make up. Darren Turner and Jonny Adam eventually finished 5th in class, just one lap behind their teammates and less than 13 seconds behind the 4th placed no67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx.

It was the no51 AF Corse Ferrari that took the fight to the no95 Aston Martin and when the chequered flag was shown the Anglo-Italian teammates were just 12.6 seconds behind.

The LMP2 victory went to the no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan of Roman Rusinov, Rene Rast and Alex Brundle.  The Russian team had claimed pole position but had to start at the back of the grid because of a homologation issue found in scrutineering following qualifying.  This meant that Rast had to fight his way through the field to get on terms with the LMP2 leaders and after great stints by Rusinov and Brundle, Rast brought the car home in front after a great battle with Filipe Albuquerque in the no43 RGR Sport Ligier. 

The no31 Extreme Speed Motorsport Ligier was leading the race as the clock showed 75 minutes remaining after Ryan Dalziel and Pipo Derani had shown some rapid pace.  Derani handed over the car to their gentleman driver Chris Cumming and the Canadian was unable to fend off the challenge of the vastly more experienced Rast and Albuquerque.  Cumming looked on course to finish on the podium but was caught and passed by the newly crowned LMP2 champion Nico Lapierre in the no36 Signatech Alpine and the ESM car had to settle for 4th place at the chequered flag.

The LMGTE Am Team and Driver title were decided before the chequered flag when the no98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, which had started from pole position, stopped on track with oily smoke pouring from the exhaust.  The world title was won by the no83 AF Corse Ferrari, with Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas claiming the drivers crown after finishing in third place for their 7th podium finish of the season.

The LMGTE Am win went to the no88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 of Patrick Long, David Heinemeier Hansson and Khaled Al Qubaisi, who began his racing career in Bahrain.  Long finished the race one lap ahead of the second placed no78 KCMG 911 to make it a 1-2 for Porsche in the final race of the 2016 season.

The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship has now finished after an exciting nine race season.  The attention now turns to 2017 which begins with The Prologue in March at Monza in Italy.