Getty Images

Porsche secures titles in FIA WEC season finale at Bahrain

1 Comment

Porsche Team’s trio of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard have captured the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship following a dramatic, troubled but triumphant afternoon into evening at the Six Hours of Bahrain, the eighth and final round of the season.

The trio’s No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid went to the garage early with engine troubles and lost five laps. In the final hour of the race, Webber limped home fighting hybrid issues, but was still able to bring the car home in fifth place overall.

The No. 17 car won four races on the trot from the Six Hours of Nürburgring at the end of August through the penultimate round of the season, the Six Hours of Shanghai, earlier this month.

On the whole, Porsche claimed its sixth consecutive victory in today’s race, as the sister No. 18 trio of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb finally broke through for their first win of the year. As the third car, the No. 19 entry of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in mid-June, it means all three of the factory entries have claimed a win this year.

Lieb was the particular standout from today’s race, as he fought off the advances of the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven by Benoit Treluyer. Treluyer, along with teammates Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler, came up just short of both the win and the Driver’s World Championship.

A late race pass by Sam Bird on Tandy in LMP2, Bird in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan and Tandy in the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan, netted the G-Drive trio of Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal not just the race win but that class title as well. It ends a dramatic season-long title battle between the two of them, where several differences of opinion joined some instances of contact on track – particularly at Fuji.

Richard Lietz won the GTE-Pro driver’s title and Porsche the manufacturer’s cup, while like in LMP1, the overall spoils went to the sister entry for the first time in 2015. Frederic Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet, the latter of whom won the GT Le Mans championship in IMSA this season, took the class race win in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR.

GTE-Am was split, with Aston Martin Racing’s trio of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda winning in their No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 for the first time since before Le Mans, at Spa back in May. Meanwhile SMP Racing’s trio of Andrea Bertolini, Victor Shaytar and Alexey Basov, the season-long class dominant entry in the No. 72 Ferrari F458 Italia, won that class driving title.

Today’s race brought to a conclusion one of the more exciting seasons in recent memory, as most if not all eight rounds packed drama, thrills and chills into every six-hour event (and most of the 24 at Le Mans).

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”