So the Six Hours of Bahrain…. The question is where to start!
From the start of the race there were battles all through the 4 classes! Right from the first corner Audi and Porsche were battling, the No. 17 Porsche having taking pole and with the sister car of 18 alongside all the work had to be done by Audi should they want to win the driver championship.
In the first hour a mechanical problem for the championship leading 17 Porsche sent the car 4 laps down and to almost the rear of the field! A throttle actuator issue meant it was now down to the skill and determination of the drivers to get the car back into contention for the drivers’ championship.
These dramas and battles were not confined to the LMP1 class. With drivers and manufacturers championships at stake there were battles all through the four classes resulting in a lot of close but fair racing.
By the end of the second hour car 17 had worked it’s way through the majority of the field to now be running in 6th place. At this point Audi No. 7 was only 8 seconds off the lead which was being held by the No. 8 - a swap in positions with the No.7 would secure the drivers’ championship at this point in time as the No. 17 needed to finish 5th or better to overhaul the points advantage of the No. 7.
At the start of the fourth hour No. 17 had worked its way up to 5th, 3 laps down from the now leading Audi No. 7. If the flag had fallen Audi would have won the drivers’ championship by a slim margin of 2 points, however the only fly in the ointment would be the No. 18 Porsche in 2nd place – had they have needed a 3 lap pit stop this would allow their team mates to take 4th and the drivers’ championship – this meant Audis’ only strategy was to go flat out and retain the lead.
This strategy did not pay off for Audi - on worn tyres during the 4th hour the No. 7 car, while battling with the No. 18 car, ran wide and the 18 was able to pass. This now meant that on points the 17 would win.
Just as we all thought the dramas had calmed down, further problems for the No. 17 saw it back into the garage for further issues with the throttle, or according to team radio the hybrid system had failed on the front wheels… the drama now was truly turned up to 11!!!
With the 17 car running at a slower pace now it was down to Audi to pass Porsche No. 18 to take the lead and potentially the championship! However, in the back of the minds of Fassler, Lotterer and Treluyer there was always the possibility that the 18 would drop back to allow the 17 to gain the points required.
At the fall of the chequered flag the No. 18 Porsche took the win overall in LMP1, followed by the No. 7 Audi and the 2 of Toyota – driven by Sarrazin, Conway and on his last race in the series before his retirement Alexander Wurz.
In LMP2 the G-Drive 26 car took the win, followed by the KCMG 47 car and the G-Drive No. 28 this sealed the championship for Rusinov, Canal and Bird.
In GTE Pro the 92 Porsche Team Manthey finished in front of the 51 AF Corse Ferrari and the resurgent 97 Aston Martin came in third. This means that the drivers’ championship went to Bruni and Vilander of the 51 AF Corse Ferrari, followed by their team mates Calardo and Rigon. This means that the Pro Team Championship also goes to AF Corse and the GT manufacturers goes to Ferrari.
As for GTE Am, the reinvigorated 98 Aston Martin took the class win. This brought them up to 3rd in the Drivers’ Championship – a fantastic race from the Abu-Dhabi racing Porsche saw the 88 second in class, but the No. 50 SMP Racing Ferrari took the Drivers’ Championship with their 5th place.
Directly after the race Timo Bernard said “I don't have words right now - a very intense season, a lot of pressure” I think that this sums up the 2015 World Endurance Championship – we look forward to 2016……