WEC wraps 2013 season in Bahrain, crowns champions

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The FIA World Endurance Championship concluded its second full season this weekend in Bahrain, with some of the championships available decided.

The race first: Toyota dominated and was able to get its second overall win of the year, albeit this was the first under normal circumstances. An absolute deluge of rain at the scheduled Fuji race in October meant the race’s 16 total laps were run almost entirely behind the safety car, and only half points were awarded. Qualifying there made the entire difference as to who was classified as race winners.

Alas, on this Saturday in Bahrain, the No. 8 TS030 Hybrid (shown at Le Mans) took its first win of the year with drivers Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi. Retirements by both the sister Toyota, the No. 2 Audi of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval and the Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota promoted an LMP2 class car to the overall podium in the form of that class’ winners, G-Drive Racing. The No. 26 Oreca 03 Nissan scored its fourth win in the last five races with drivers Mike Conway, John Martin and Roman Rusinov.

AF Corse took the GTE Pro class win with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the No. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia, and Aston Martin Racing capped off a challenging year for its Danish No. 95 Vantage with a GTE Am class win for the trio of countrymen Christoffer Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim.

Although they retired, the Kristensen/McNish/Duval trio had banked enough points throughout the rest of the eight-race season to win the World Driver’s Championship overall. After racing alongside fellow ex-Formula One shoe Giancarlo Fisichella the other seven races, Bruni was split from his Italian countryman for Bahrain in an effort to ensure one of them won the World Cup for GT Drivers. Bruni took home that honor while a retirement for the No. 97 Aston Martin pairing of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke cost them a shot.

The trio of Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez secured the Trophy for LMP2 Drivers for OAK Racing after a solid, consistent season in their No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan that included the class win at Le Mans. Lastly Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall wrapped up the Trophy for GTE Am Drivers in their No. 96 Aston Martin.

Audi (LMP) and Ferrari (GTE) took home the Manufacturer World Championships, while OAK No. 35 (LMP2), AF Corse No. 51 (GTE Pro) and 8Star Motorsports No. 81 (GTE Am) won FIA Endurance Trophies for teams.

And to answer your next question, no, not everyone who competed in the WEC this year took home a trophy. But there were many pieces of hardware to dole out.

Here’s what drivers said after Sunday’s INDYCAR race was postponed until Monday

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Here’s what several drenched drivers had to say after Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was postponed until Monday morning (11:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner, 2018 pole winner): “It’s tough because we have so many people that come out here to watch us. We want to put on a good race. We want to put on a show. So calling the race, running around behind the pace car not running, it’s tough, it’s tough to do that. But I think it was the right thing in the end. When we started the race, the conditions were OK. You could run at that level of rain. Then, it intensified right before that first caution. I think when the caution came out, it got to a point where it was just too much. There was too much puddling and pooling of water on every straightaway. Then the rivers started flowing, high-speed compressions in Turns 1 and 2, fast corner, 12 and 13, fast corner where the river starts to form. Just tough. I mean, look, we love racing in the rain. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to run in the rain, not being able to do that. It’s that this type of track with this water level was too much to race today. We’ve run here in the rain before, but it intensified to the point where you’re starting to get in a situation where it’s going to take it out of the drivers’ hands. What happened with Will (Power), I don’t think is a driver error. I don’t know how anyone is going to drive hydroplaning on the front straightaway. I think you would have had that for the rest of the track, too. A tough situation. Thanks for the fans that came out and supported us. Hopefully we’ll get some people back tomorrow and we’ll get the show in and put on a great event.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“Tough day so far. We had some problems with our radio and fuel alarm, but otherwise the car was alright. It was just too dangerous out there, we couldn’t see anything, so I think they made the right call. Hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s just a real shame for everyone on the Verizon Chevy team. The car was good and we were doing our best out there, but it was really hard to see anything in front of me. The conditions were just so bad. As soon as I got to the frontstraight, the car just came around, and I tried to keep it off the wall, but it was hydroplaning and there was nothing I could do. I feel bad for the team and for the fans in this weather. Just too bad. Hopefully our luck can turn around when we get to Indianapolis.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Very difficult day for us. In the race we were 13th at the time and we had some electrical issues, so that caused us to pit and we lost a lap. Not the ideal situation, but we don’t give up. There’s still a race tomorrow and we’re going to go for the most points. Anything can happen.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “It was a tough beginning, but when we kind of got going it was OK and kind of fun to challenge for a while, but visibility was a major issue today, no doubt. I’m glad that the series postponed it. I would have like to get it in today, but that’s life. We will go racing tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “I think definitely the right decision was made to red flag the race. It’s a very difficult position for everyone to be in. It’s never the result that you want, but safety is obviously a priority. I think everyone did a good job considering the conditions of looking out for each other. Not being able to see is not doing anybody any good. It is hard for everyone, but glad that we’re all in one piece and try again later.

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “As you could see on TV, if you couldn’t see the car, it was probably three times worse in the cockpit on the main straight or any straight. You had to completely trust the guys that they were accelerating. Never the less, I made good progress on the short stint and I made up a few positions.  The car was working well, but also was aquaplaning a lot, too, so I have to respect INDYCAR’s decision for everyone’s safety. Now we really need to concentrate on having a good car for tomorrow. I’m sorry for the fans that sat in rain all day, but thank them for their support.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “It was a short day. In the beginning the conditions were not that good, but afterwards the conditions started to improve. The race was stopped, then restarted, and I think the conditions were not too bad at that point. Unfortunately, it was red flagged again and then cancelled for the day. It would have been nice to get halfway, but we will come back and try again tomorrow.”