Audi has scored an emotional 1-2 in its final race in prototype competition, as Porsche’s Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb won the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship with a sixth-place finish in Saturday’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.
The German manufacturer bowed out in style, in its strongest race of the year, with Lucas Di Grassi taking the No. 8 Audi R18 to a 19.282-second win over the sister No. 7 car of Marcel Fassler.
Both Audis exchanged the lead early on, until a well-timed pit stop during the race’s only Full Course Yellow period at the halfway mark put the No. 8 car of Di Grassi, Loic Duval, and Oliver Jarvis out front.
With Toyota unable to challenge and the championship-winning No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid hitting trouble in the opening hour, Audi paved the way for a fitting sendoff after a remarkable 18-year run in top-level sports car racing.
It marked Di Grassi, Duval and Jarvis’ second win of the season, and the first Audi 1-2 sweep since Circuit of The Americas in 2014.
Fassler and longtime co-drivers Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer were second, ahead of the No. 1 Porsche, taken to the flag by Mark Webber, who ended his illustrious driving career with a podium finish.
The sister Porsche lost a lap early when contact was made between Jani and the No. 78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR of Christian Ried, resulting in a left-rear puncture to the No. 2 car.
Jani, Dumas and Lieb’s sixth place finish, however, was more than enough to take home the Drivers’ World Championship, as the title-contending No. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid could only salvage fifth in the end.
Ironically, the Porsche trio was unable to score a podium finish since their victory in the double points-paying round at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, only one of two wins for the No. 2 car this season.
G-Drive Racing scored its third consecutive LMP2 class victory, thanks to Rene Rast’s pass on the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Filipe Albuquerque with less than 20 minutes to go.
The No. 31 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier Nissan of Chris Cumming held the class lead until his final fuel-only stop, after the American team opted to put the Silver-rated Canadian in for the final one-hour, 15-minute required stint.
Cumming, however, faded to fourth at the checkered flag, behind the class championship-winning No. 36 Signatech Alpine A460 of Nico Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes, and Stephane Richelmi.
Rast, in his return to the Jota Sport-run squad, shared top class honors with Alex Brundle and Roman Rusinov, in a last-to-first run after starting from the rear of the field due to a post-qualifying homologation infringement.
The No. 13 Rebellion R-One AER of Alexandre Imperatori, Dominik Kraihamer, and Matheo Tuscher claimed top class honors in LMP1 Privateer, in the team’s final race in the class.
The trio was classified 7th overall, ten laps behind the race-winning Audi.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Bahrain