Audi ended its 18-year stint at the pinnacle of sportscar racing in typical Audi fashion – dominant, classy, controlled – by scoring a one-two finish in the FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain.
Audi announced last month that it would be ended its LMP1 program at the end of the 2016 season, drawing to a close one of the most successful stories in motorsport history.
After taking pole position with its no. 8 R18 car, Audi dominated proceedings at the Bahrain International Circuit to clinch a one-two finish, marking a perfect finish to its stint in the WEC.
Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi and Loic Duval didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the race, eventually crossign the line with a 16-second advantage over Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler in the no. 7 R18.
On a day that marked the end of an era for the WEC – for more reasons than Audi’s exit – the no. 2 Porsche crew of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani were crowned world champions despite finishing sixth on Saturday.
The trio dropped back from the battle at the sharp end of LMP1 after the first round of pit stops when Jani made contact with the no. 78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR, causing damage to the rear of the car and forcing an unscheduled pit stop.
However, with title rivals Toyota only finishing fifth with its no. 6 TS050 Hybrid, the eventual sixth-place finish was enough for the no. 2 crew to wrap up the championship, crossing the line three laps down on the leaders.
Mark Webber’s racing career was given a fitting end as he brought the no. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid home in third place, scoring a podium alongside Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.
Rebellion Racing bid farewell to the LMP1 privateer class by adding class victory in Bahrain to the championship it won earlier in the year, finishing four laps ahead of the rival ByKolles team.
In LMP2 – the only class without a championship up for grabs in Bahrain – G-Drive Racing fought back from being excluded from qualifying to win the race with its no. 26 Oreca Nissan, edging out the no. 43 RGR Sport by Morand entry by just six seconds at the checkered flag.
Aston Martin Racing drivers Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen wrapped up the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers with a well-taken victory in GTE Pro, finishing 12 seconds clear in their no. 95 Vantage V8.
However, it was the AF Corse Ferrari team that won the manufacturers’ title after AMR was denied a surefire one-two finish when the no. 97 car lost a wheel mid-distance, ending hopes of a championship double for the British marque.
AF Corse also came out on top in the race for the GTE Am title as the no. 83 crew of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas finished third in their Ferrari 458 car, with their success being confirmed mid-race when the rival no. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 was forced to retire.