The 6 Hours of Bahrain marked not just the end of the 2016 season but the end of Audi Sport Team Joest’s participation in the championship, Audi choosing to focus on Formula E competition instead after 18 years of endurance competition. It was also the final race of Mark Webber’s career, the Aussie retiring from the cockpit after storied runs in both Formula 1 and the highest rung of sports car racing, the latter of which included being crowned 2015 champion in the #1 Porsche and winning just 2 weeks ago in Shanghai.
The 2016 LMP1 standings coming into Bahrain had the #2 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid (Marc Lieb, Neel Jani, Romain Dumas) in first with 152.0 points, the #5 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid (Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, Stephane Sarrazin) in second with 135.0, and the #8 Audi R18 (Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis) in third with 121.5. A race win in FIA WEC competition earns 25 points, with 18 points for second, 15 for third, etc.
The LMP2 title was decided in China, the #36 Signatech Alpine-Nissan (Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes, Stephane Richelmi) taking top honors.
In GTE Pro, the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage (Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim) held a 12 point lead of the #71 Scuderia Corse Ferrari 488 (Davide Rigon, Sam Bird), with the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT (Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke) and the #51 Ferrari tied for third another 9 points back.
The #83 Ferrari (Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas, Francois Perrodo) carried a 25-point lead in GTE Am, leaving the smallest of opportunities for #98 Aston Martin (Matthias Lauda, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy) in second.
The #8 Audi led in the first lap followed by Porsches #2 and #1 (Timo Bernhard). The #51 Ferrari (Gianmaria Bruni) led the #95 and #97 (Darren Turner) Aston Martins in GTE Pro. Fifteen minutes into competition the #50 Larbre Corvette (Ricky Taylor) led GTE Am ahead of the #98 Aston and the #XX Gulf Racing Porsche 911 (XX Barker). The #36 led LMP2.
Barker took second in GTE Am a few moments later. Marcel Fassler (#7 Audi) was pressing Bernard for P3 at the 5:40 mark. Duval led Jani by 6 sec. Fassler made the pass stick at 5:32 as the sun was setting and took second from the #2 Porsche moments later.
The #7 Audi pitted with 5 hr 12 min remaining, the #8 following one lap later. The #2 Porsche stopped at the same time as the #8. The #2 Porsche suffered a puncture after contact with a GT car on its out lap, losing the left rear tire altogether before making it back to the pits. The #5 Toyota assumed third.
With 3:02 left the #36 was still leading LMP2.
Calamity struck Aston Martin Racing as the halfway point was reached, the #98 slowing dramatically because of engine problems and the #97 (Jonny Adam) losing its right front tire after pitting. A full-course yellow was called. The #98 retired clinching the GTE Am championship for the #83 Ferrari.
The #7 Audi led the #8 by 50 sec and the #1 Porsche by 1 lap.
Green flag racing resumed at 2:51. The #95 Aston Martin led GTE Pro by 11.4 sec over the #51 Ferrari (James Calado) and 48 sec over the #67 Ford GT (Andy Priaulx).
The #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2-Nissan (Pipo Dirani) passed the #36 for the LMP2 lead. By the 2:30 mark Dirani had extended his lead to 7.6 sec.
The #7 Audi pitted at 2:28. The #71 Ferrari passed the #67 Ford for third in GTE Pro. The #5 Toyota pitted from P3 with 2:19 remaining. The #8 Audi led by 1 lap on the #7 (the two having split pit strategies during the full-course caution) and 2 laps on the #1 Porsche.
Audi closed its endurance racing history with a 1-2 finish, the #8 topping the #7. The #2 Porsche’s sixth-place finish was enough clinch the championship for Dumas, Lieb, and Jani. Webber closed his career with a podium finish, the #1 Porsche placing third.
The #26 G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan (Rene Rast) took the lead from the #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier-Nissan (Filipe Albuquerque) two laps before the end to win the race. The #36 Signatech finished third.
Sorensen and Thiim took the GTE Pro victory to win the championship, the #51 Ferrari finishing second. The #71 Ferrari finished third, clinching the GT manufacturers’ title for the make.
The #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche 911 (Khaled al-Qubasi, Patrick Long, David Heinemeier-Hansson) won GTE Am, its second victory of the season. The new champions in the #83 Ferrari finished third, with the #78 KCMG Porsche (Christian Ried, Wolf Henzler, Joel Camathias) on the second step of the podium.
For all times from the race CLICK HERE
For final championship classifications CLICK HERE