Ferrari claimed a second World Endurance Championship crown of 2017 in the 6 Hours of Bahrain Saturday. Second place secured the GT drivers‘ world title for James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi to go with the manufacturers‘ prize won by Ferrari earlier this month in Shanghai.
Calado and Pier Guidi were on top in GTE Pro from early in the third hour of the day-night race, but backed off in the closing stages, safe in the knowledge that they had done enough to seal the championship ahead of their rivals from Porsche and Ford. That allowed Sam Bird and Davide Rigon to take the victory in the sister Ferrari 488 GTE run by the factory AF Corse team.
Bird and Rigon had a clear lead as half-distance approached, but a full-course yellow virtual safety car turned a lead of 20 seconds into a deficit of a similar amount. The leaders had just made a stop under green flag conditions when the virtual safety car was called, which allowed their closest rivals to gain back that time and more by pitting under the yellow flags.
„Being able to call myself a world champion is something I’ve always dreamed of,“ said Calado. „I’m not sure we had the quickest car today, but I think we had the most consistent car and we stayed out of trouble.“
Porsche looked like it might score a first WEC victory with its new-for-2017 rear-engined 911 RSR. Michael Christensen was closing on the Bird/Rigon Ferrari just before half distance when he and Toyota LMP1 driver Kamui Kobayashi came together at turn two, the incident leaving the Porsche the Dane shared with Kevin Estre sliding into the gravel.
Toyota claimed overall victory, ending up with five wins to Porsche’s four.
Their Porsche teammates Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz were second in the points coming into the Bahrain weekend and looked for a short moment like they might mount a challenge to the Ferraris. The Porsche was quick on the softer of the two Michelin compounds available, but when Makowiecki had to switch back to harder rubber for his final stint in the cooler conditions at the end of the race, he lost time and faded to fourth.
Ganassi Ford GT drivers Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell came through to take the final podium position. Their outside chance of the title disappeared in the middle of the race when they lost more than 20 seconds in the pits with a wheel-nut issue and trouble restarting the car.
Toyota claimed overall victory, ending up with five wins to Porsche’s four. Toyota took the big prizes in the drivers‘ and manufacturers‘ championships and the Le Mans 24 Hours this year. Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson took the victory for the Japanese manufacturer with a dominant display on a day that the other three cars in LMP1 all hit trouble.
The winning Toyota TS050 Hybrid finished a lap ahead of WEC drivers‘ champions Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber. They lost time in the opening laps when Bernhard ran over an errant corner marker post and needed a new nose section.
Bruno Senna and Julien Canal took the LMP2 drivers‘ crown with victory together with Nicolas Prost in the best of the Rebellion ORECA-Gibson 07s. They prevailed by just 10 seconds over the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent, which required an extra pitstop because the car was not picking up the last 15 litres of the fuel in the tank.
Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy finally claimed GTE Am honors in their third season together with a class victory in their Aston Vantage GTE.
Second place secured the GT drivers‘ world title for Calado and Pier Guidi
FIA WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain Results by Class