Paul Dalla Lana feels his long-awaited first FIA World Endurance Championship title will “take a while to sink in” after clinching the drivers’ crown in GTE-Am on Saturday in Bahrain for Aston Martin Racing.
In their third year racing as a trio, Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda clinched their maiden title in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE by taking their fourth win of the season in the Six Hours of Bahrain.
The title success came after missing out in 2016 due to three retirements through the season, while the crew’s dramatic late crash at Le Mans in 2015 also dashed its chances of the title.
“I think it’s going to take a while for that to sink in. I’ve got to say it’s a new feeling,” Dalla Lana said after the race.
“Frankly if I was on the other side of this podium, taking it all in and looking at these guys going ‘wow there’s all these big stars up here and what am I doing here?’
“That part has been great. Kudos to the team. We’ve kind of stuck with it. It’s our fourth year, and as we said we’ve had some good successes but not the ultimate success.
“So I think tonight’s going to be a really big party, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The Canadian was on hand to hold out the champions’ pit board as Lamy crossed the line over a minute clear of the competition to seal the title.
“The dream comes true. We’ve trying so hard for a few years, and finally we won,” Lamy said after the race.
“We were strong in all the past championships. We were always on pole and winning races and so close to winning, but finally we got the feeling of winning a championship.
“I’m really happy and really proud to race with Paul and Mathias because they’re really fast. We were always on top, even if sometimes the car is not the fastest, but we can fight always for the victory. It’s a great feeling.”
The result marked not only a maiden title for both Dalla Lana and Lamy in the WEC, but also for Lauda, the son of three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda, in any form of racing.
“It’s great. I’ve been racing 14 years, and it’s my first title and I’m over the moon,” Lauda said.
“With these two I’ve won already 12 races in three years, and the championship was our main goal, and we did it.
“I’m over the moon, couldn’t be happier. It was a great time over the last three years.”
The No. 98 Aston Martin crew ultimately finished the season 24 points clear of Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR in the final standings to claim both the drivers’ and teams’ titles.