FIA WEC Bahrain 6 Hours Resources
The #8 Toyota took the final victory of 2018 at the WEC Bahrain 6 Hours. Davidson, Buemi and Nakajima ran a faultless race, finishing almost a full lap ahead of the #2 Porsche. The #1 Porsche rounded off the podium a further lap back in third, with the #7 Toyota four laps down in fourth.
The Toyotas spent little time moving to the front of the field. 35 minutes in, the #8 Toyota passed the #1 Porsche for the lead, and was closely followed by the #7. After the first stint it became clear that Porsche were suffering from higher tyre wear than the Toyotas, and the gap began to grow. After a couple of round of pit stops, the Toyotas were untouchable.
Not only was performance not there for Porsche, they were missing luck too. The #2 ran over a discarded bollard in the opening minutes of the race, collecting it under the car. Although it caused minimal damage, the downforce loss was enough to force a pit stop. After the nose was replaced and the bollard dug out, the car had lost almost a lap.
The race was far from clean for the #1 Porsche as well. 4 hours in the #1 made a late lunge down the inside of the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche, tagging the GTE-Am car. It spun the #86, and left #1 with a puncture. By the time the car had limped round for a replacement it had lost a lap and was given a penalty for the incident.
The #8 also had a significant incident. The Toyota attempted to nip down the inside of the #92 Porsche GTE-Pro car into turn 2. Christensen didn’t see the Toyota, turned in and made contact. The #92 was left beached in the gravel, whilst the #7 made it back to the pits for repairs to the engine cover, sidepod and floor. The incident appeared to be the fault of the GTE Porsche, but race control disagreed and penalised the #7. The car eventually crossed the line 3 laps down.
For Toyota, it will be a mixture of emotions. The #8 car took 5 victories in 2017, 1 more than the #1 Porsche. But the big prizes of Le Mans, and the WEC LMP1 title eluded the Japanese manufacturer. The first Le Mans victory never came, and the double points earned by the #1 is what eventually made it too steep a hill to climb at the end of the season.
Will Toyota be back for the super-season? It would give them two attempts at adding their name to the list of Le Mans winners, and a shot at a Sebring victory as well – something Porsche was not able to attempt with the 919.
Rebellion hang on to take the LMP2 trophy
Rebellion took LMP2 class honours at Bahrain, and with it the LMP2 Trophy. The #31 Rebellion Oreca of Senna, Canal and Prost survived a late race power steering failure to beat home the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car.
With the pole sitting #36 Signatech Alpine fading early in the race it left the arena open for a straight fight between the #31 Rebellion and #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing team for title honours.
The #38 Jota run Oreca appeared to have the race under control, as Oliver Jarvis held the #31 behind during the opening laps and dealt with the surrounding traffic better.
In contrast, the #31 was forced off the road by Jarvis and had a tough wheel to wheel battle with Vergne in the #25 Manor. After a couple of robust moves by JEV, Senna decided he’d had enough and launched himself down the outside of the Manor. The cars made contact but with no damage and continued. In another odd stewards decision, the #31 was penalised for the contact and had 5 seconds added to the pit stop time. It all looked uphill for the #31.
The turning point of the race was presented, unusually, by a black cat. The animal had wandered onto the run off and was initially covered by local yellows. When the furry explorer ventured closer to the racing surface, the race director announced a FCY to rescue the animal. As if he was listening, the cat promptly cleared the gravel trap to safety and the FCY was cancelled.
Unfortunately for Jackie Chan DC Racing, they had already reacted to the announced FCY and pitted the car in anticipation. Although it did not appear to be an issue, the full effect became clear as the race came to a close. The #38 was short on fuel by around 5 minutes and would require a splash.
The last twist in the LMP2 trophy came with 50 minutes remaining. The #31, which had a 25 second lead, had lost power steering and Senna was struggling with the additional weight. Rebellion prepared Nico Prost in the pit lane, but ultimately he wasn’t required – Senna put in yet another monster stint to hold on for the victory, and therefore the championship.
For Bruno Senna, it was another incredible drive at the end of the season. The Brazilian has gelled with the new LMP2 machinery well, and risen to the challenge of running in the highly competitive LMP2 class. Senna and Canal take the LMP2 title, with Prost missing out due to sitting out the 6 hours of the Nurburgring for a Formula E race.
Will Rebellion remain in LMP2? Or do the rumours of an Oreca LMP1 project have any merit? We’ll find out as the 18/19 super-season approaches.
Ferrari 1-2 in Pro; Championship for #51
Ferrari took a 1-2 at Bahrain, making the #51 car the 2018 GTE World Champions. The #71 headed home a formation finish, with the #51 gifting the win to the sister car. The race results read as if Ferrari dominated the race, but they had a tougher fight than the timing sheets suggest.
The 488s were the only cars which were able to consistently run at the front of the class. The #67 Ford, #91 Porsche and #92 Porsche all took turns in trying to upset the Ferrari parade, but the challenges faded for one reason or another.
The #67 Ford GT was the earliest challenger, and moved to the front around 2 hours in. The #92 Porsche followed the Ford to the lead and looked a strong contender for the win. The #92 challenge ended with the contact with the #7 Toyota at the midpoint of the race. The #91 picked up where the #92 left off and set about catching the leaders.
As the light faded, so did the #67 Ford, falling back behind the Ferraris. It would eventually finish 3rd, with the #91 Porsche fourth. The strong end to the race sealed the title for the #51 Ferrari 488, with Pier Guidi and Calado crowned GT World Endurance Champions. In a double celebration, Sam Bird proposed to his partner in parc ferme – she said yes!
Dalla Lana finally gets his Am title
Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy took GTE-Am Trophy honours with a victory in the GTE-Am class. The Aston Martin looked comfortable at the front of the field, finishing over a minute ahead of the Ferrari 488s.
Aston Martins job was made easier for reliability issues for the other Am runners. Both Porsche 911s suffered headlight issues, requiring garage stops. The #86 Gulf Racing Porsche had a particularly challenging weekend. The car started a lap down after a fire during qualifying, was punted out of the way by an LMP1 Porsche, and spent time in the garage due to the damage and headlight issues.