Audi take emotional final win; Porsche team champions
Audi executed the perfect goodbye to endurance racing by dominating proceedings under the lights at the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain. The No.8 Audi R18 of Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval took a memorable victory at the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain this evening, while Porsche drivers Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas took the World Endurance Drivers Championship.
In the final race for Audi Sport Team Joest, the No.8 led home the sister Audi R18 LMP1 car driven by three-time Le Mans winners – Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer.
Rounding out the podium was the No.1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard. Webber took the final stint to claim a podium position in his final professional motorsport race.
There were major celebrations in the No.2 Porsche pit as sixth position was good enough for Jani, Lieb and Dumas to add the FIA World Endurance Drivers title to their Le Mans win earlier this season.
In the LMP2 class there was a thrilling finale as the G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan driven by Rene Rast hunted down Filipe Albuquerque in the RGR Sport Ligier in final stages to take the third consecutive win for the Russian team.
LMGTE Pro saw Danish duo Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim take the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers in style after leading the majority of the race.
Ferrari took the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers after placing second and third with the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE entry of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado heading the Sam Bird and Davide Rigon sister car home.
In the LMGTE Am class there were smiles in the No.83 AF Corse Ferrari pit as Francois Perrodo, Rui Aguas and Emmanuel Collard took the crown with a third placed finish. The job was done for the trio at the halfway stage when their nearest challenger, the No.98 Aston Martin, retired with an engine issue.
No.88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche 911 RSR of Khaled Al Qubaisi, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Pat Long took their second class win of the year.
Saying goodbye with a bang: Audi achieved an impressive one-two victory in the last race of its Le Mans prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). After clinching pole position in qualifying, the Audi R18 diesel hybrid sports car went on to claim a lights-to-flag victory in the 6 Hours of Bahrain. In addition, Lucas di Grassi set the fastest race lap. As a result, Audi has clinched the vice-championship titles in the manufacturers' and drivers' classifications.
Audi Sport, its six campaigners and Audi Sport Team Joest gave their all once again in the season finale and came out the big winners. “Thank you to the whole squad for an impeccable performance. You couldn't wish for a sweeter farewell,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Our competitors and the FIA WEC gave us a very emotional finale with many nice gestures, and we are saying thank you with the best possible sporting result for so many years of tremendous racing: an unforgettable weekend!”
Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis (BR/F/GB) took the lead from the start. Towards the end of the first third of the race, the sister car, number 7, of Marcel Fassler/Andre Lotterer/Benoît Treluyer (CH/D/F) clearly caught up, temporarily taking the lead, but subsequently dropped back again due to issues with a wheel gun during a tire change. Number 8 took the lead again and on lap 104 was the only top team to gamble on a pit stop during a full-course yellow. This move paid off and combined with setting good lap times, including the fastest race lap by Lucas di Grassi, number 8 eked out an advantage. Even an unscheduled stop on lap 149, during which the team had to remove rubber pickup from various body parts, did not ruin the trio's rhythm.
As a result, Grassi/Duval/Jarvis crossed the finish line after six hours with a 16-second advantage, achieving their second victory this season following the 6 Hours of Spa in May. In addition, they recaptured position two in the standings. Their teammates Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer completed the one-two, earning Audi its best result of the season. With that, Audi looks back on a sports car era with an impeccable track record. Since 1999, the LMP race cars with the four rings have won 107 of 187 races in America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) since 2012, Audi has stood for bests as well. On 16 occasions, the brand's sports cars were on pole position, winning 17 of 41 races. 23 fastest race laps complete this tally. No other manufacturer has been more successful in even just one of these categories. In addition, Audi clinched two drivers' and two manufacturers' world championship titles.
"Our intention had been to achieve the maximum today in Bahrain, and that's exactly what we did," said Stefan Dreyer, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. "A huge thank you goes to this top team, to Audi Sport Team Joest, to our drivers, and to all the people who made this possible behind the scenes in Neuburg, Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt. As emotional and touching this farewell may seem it is matched by the joy we feel about this top sporting performance with our one-two result and the two vice-championship titles. Sincere congratulations to everyone."
Dumas/Jani/Lieb have shared a Porsche 919 Hybrid for the third consecutive season. From 2014 up until today they have set milestones, experienced highs and mastered lows. In 2014 they took the first three pole positions for the successful innovative Le Mans prototype. At the finale of the debut season, Brazil in 2014, they achieved the 919's maiden race victory to come third in the 2014 drivers' world championship. Again in 2015 the tally was three pole positions and one race win, as well as third place in the championship. Their race win in the breath-taking 2015 season finale in Bahrain enabled Porsche's sister crew to become the drivers' world champions.
Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, said: "This is a great season end for Porsche and a huge success for Romain Dumas, Mark Lieb and Neel Jani! My congratulations are from the depth of my heart. After these three were able to win Le Mans in June and the LMP1 team successfully defended the manufacturers' world championship in Shanghai, now taking the drivers' title as well is the icing on the cake of what was a demanding WEC season. After 2015, Porsche has now managed to take all the titles again. I'm very proud of the effort of every single person in the team. Respect!"
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing experienced a disappointing end to the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season in the 6 Hours of Bahrain.
When the race got under way, Kamui in the #6 fought hard with #7 Audi but could not stay ahead, instead he put pressure on from fifth with Sebastien just behind in the sister car.
The Porsche #2 suffered a puncture after almost one hour, elevating the #5 to fourth place, with the #6 now in fifth as the sun set and darkness took hold at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The order stayed that way through the first half of the race, as track temperatures dropped slightly in the darkness. But after the halfway point, the two TS050 HYBRIDs swapped position several times, both in the pits and on track.
The #1 Porsche remained out of reach in third place despite consistent efforts from all TOYOTA drivers as the end of the race approached.
When the chequered flag fell, Sebastien crossed the line in fourth place, a lap behind the winning Audi #8. Mike followed 38.685secs later to complete a frustrating weekend.
The team's focus will now switch to 2017 preparations, with an intense pre-season testing schedule to fine-tune an updated TS050 HYBRID in time for the opening race, at Silverstone on 16 April.
Those preparations begin already on Sunday with a two-car test session in Bahrain, which also sees promising LMP2 driver Pipo Derani test the TS050 HYBRID as part of the WEC's rookie driver initiative.
The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team finished the 'Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain' in fourth and sixth positions today after a tough fight to the finish of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship. The team claimed the runner up spot in the team's championship despite a somewhat disappointing ending to what has been an incredible debut season for the Ford GT.
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