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Porsche WEC Teams Clean Up In Season-Ender In Bahrain

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 22 2015
The Bahrain winning Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

The Bahrain winning Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Porsche works drivers closed-out the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship Saturday by claiming drivers’ championships in the Le Mans Prototype 1 and GTE-Pro classes during the Six Hours of Bahrain.

A fifth-place finish by Timo Bernhard of Germany, Brendon Hartley of New Zealand and Mark Webber of Australia in the No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid was enough to claim the LMP1 drivers’ title in Round 8 of the series. Romain Dumas of France, Neel Jani of Switzerland and Marc Lieb of Germany posted their first win of the season in the sister No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Meanwhile, the Porsche 911 RSR co-driven by Frenchmen Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet scored its fourth GTE-Pro class win of the season, as Porsche also netted three championships with the racer based on the iconic 911 sports car. With this victory at the Bahrain International Circuit, Porsche overtook Ferarri in the manufacturers’ classification. The Porsche Manthey squad secured the team championship, and Porsche works driver Richard Lietz of Austria defended his title in the FIA World Endurance Cup for Drivers.

Bernhard/Hartley/Webber began the day with a 13-point lead over the Audi trio of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer. But the race took an unexpected turn 30 minutes after the start when Bernhard reported a loss of engine power and was forced to pit. Team mechanics repaired an engine actuator problem in 8 minutes, 43 seconds _ dropping Bernhard four-and-a-half laps off the lead around the 3.362-mile circuit in Sakhir.

“I had a super start and was able create a gap between myself and the rest of the field,” Bernhard said. “But about half way through the first stint the engine wouldn’t go on-throttle anymore. The mechanics did a great job in repairing this so quickly, many thanks for that. After the repair it was all about staying cool and keeping fighting. We knew we had the speed. It was an intense race to wrap-up an intense season.”

Eighty-three laps into the event _ 79 for his car _ Hartley pitted for fuel and tires and a second stint. Hartley handed the car over to Webber at the end of Lap 114 (Lap 110 for the No. 17) in fifth. Webber pitted for fuel and fresh tires after 144 laps. After Lap 158, Webber was called in for another unscheduled pit stop involving an actuator problem but rejoined the race without losing a position. Following a final splash-and-dash for fuel after Lap 183, Webber crossed the line in fifth _ but as a world champion.

“Today clearly shows the qualities of the team,” Webber said. “We have had some very smooth days this year, but we executed the victories with clinical precision. Today was about fighting as hard as possible. You saw the spirit of the mechanics; you saw the spirit of the drivers. I cannot thank the mechanics enough. The pit stops we had in the garage were extremely stressful. It’s amazing that we were able to win the world championship under pressure like this.

“I’m so proud to be world champion with Timo and Brendon and with Porsche. It was 1986 when Derek Bell managed this the last time. It was a massive day for the team.”

The season was highlighted on June 14, when Earl Bamber of New Zealand, Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Nick Tandy of Great Britain co-drove the No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid to victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche’s record 17th overall victory in the world’s most prestigious endurance race was capped by a 1-2 finish as Bernhard/Hartley/Webber finished second for a fifth time, a list including 1971, 1983, 1987 and 1998.

Andreas Seidl, team principal, said the championship shared by Bernhard/Hartley/Webber was well-deserved. “We experienced a very difficult race today,” Seidl said. “But again we were able to show that we can cope with it. After a perfect season this is the icing on the cake. Thanks to the team here and at home (Weissach) and to all our technical partners and sponsors, who have supported us right from the beginning of this program and who deserve a big share of this success. From tomorrow on, the new season starts.”

LMP1 results at the Six Hours of Bahrain, Round 8 of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with drivers, country (in parenthesis) car and laps completed:
1. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (FR/CH/DE), Porsche 919 Hybrid, 199 laps
2. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/DE/FR), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, plus-1:25.310 minutes
3. Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway (AT/FR/GB), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 3 laps behind
4. Davidson/Buemi/Nakajima (GB/CH/JP), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 3 laps behind
5. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (DE/NZ/AU), Porsche 919 Hybrid, 9 laps behind
6. Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (BR/FR/GB), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 11 laps behind

FIA World Endurance Championship final standings with drivers, country (in parenthesis) car and total points:
1. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (DE/NZ/AUS), Porsche, 166
2. Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler (DE/FR/CH), Audi, 161
3. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (FR/CH/DE), Porsche, 138, 5
4. Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (BR/FR/GB), Audi, 99
5. Davidson/Buemi (GB/CH), Toyota, 79
6. Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway (AT/FR/GB), Toyota, 79
7. Nakajima (JP), Toyota, 75
6. Tandy (GB), Porsche & Oreca, 70.5
7. Bamber/Hülkenberg (NZ/DE), Porsche, 58

FIA World Endurance Championship final manufacturers’ point standings:
1. Porsche, 344; 2. Audi, 264; 3. Toyota, 164.

GTE-Pro class results at the FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Bahrain with drivers, country (in parenthesis), car and laps completed:
1. Pilet/Makowiecki (F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 173 laps
2. Bruni/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari, 173
3. Turner/Adam (GB/GB), Aston Martin, 173
4. Nygaard/Sörensen/Thiim (DK/DK/DK), Aston Martin, 173
5. Lietz/Christensen (A/DK), Porsche 911 RSR, 172
6. Rigon/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari, 172
7. MacDowall/Rees/Stanaway (GB/BRA/NZ), Aston Martin, 171

GTE-Am class results at the FIA World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Bahrain with drivers, country (in parenthesis), car and laps completed:
1. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CDN/P/A), Aston Martin, 170 laps
2. Bachler/Al Qubaisi/Mapelli (A/UAE/I), Porsche 911 RSR, 170
3. Long/Ried/Seefried (USA/D/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 170
4. Perrodo/Collard/Cressoni (F/F/I), Ferrari, 169
5. Bertolini/Shaytar/Basov (I/RUS/RUS), Ferrari, 169
6. Roda/Ruberti/Poulsen (I/I/DK), Chevrolet Corvette, 169
7. Castellacci/Goethe/Hall (I/D/GB), Aston Martin, 168

Final GTE-Pro Manufacturers’ points-standings after eight races:
1. Porsche, 290; 2. Ferrari, 286; 3. Aston Martin, 192.

Final FIA World Endurance Cup point-standings for GT drivers:
1. Richard Lietz, Porsche, 145
2. Gianmaria Bruni/Toni Vilander, Ferrari, 131.5
3. Michael Christensen, Porsche, 127
4. Davide Rigon/James Calado, Ferrari, 123
5. Frédéric Makowiecki, Porsche, 118
6. Patrick Pilet, Porsche, 100

FIA Endurance Trophy final point-standings for GTE-Pro Teams:
1. Porsche Team Manthey, No. 91 Porsche, 154
2. AF Corse, No. 51 Ferrari, 149
3. AF Corse, No. 71 Ferrari, 137
4. Porsche Team Manthey, No. 92 Porsche, 118
5. Aston Martin Racing, No. 99 Aston Martin, 100
6. Aston Martin Racing, No. 95 Aston Martin, 95

Note: Sports Prototypes and GT vehicles contest the Sports Car World Championship WEC (World Endurance Championship) in four classes _ LMP1 (eg. Porsche 919 Hybrid), LMP2, LMGTE-Pro (eg. 911 RSR) and LMGTE-Am (eg. 911 RSR, 2014 homologation). All entries compete together in one race but are classified separately.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 22 2015
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