Porsche has claimed its first overall victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship following an action-packed and incident-filled season-ending Six Hours of Sao Paulo.
Neel Jani took the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid to the monumental win, in a race that ended under the safety car following a heavy crash by teammate Mark Webber in the final 30 minutes of the race.
Webber escaped serious injury in the high-speed impact, which also collected a GTE-Am class Ferrari, although the track was unable to be fully cleaned for the race to restart.
Aside from the late-race crash, Porsche enjoyed a breakout race, with the No. 20 car of Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard leading the opening hours.
However, an intense battle for the lead developed between all six of the factory LMP1-H entries through the middle stages, with Toyota and Audi also enjoying time out front.
The key, however, came with the No. 14 Porsche’s ability to double stint tires, which helped put Jani and co-drivers Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb marginally ahead of the others, despite getting off sequence on stops early due to a puncture.
Jani held a 14-second gap over the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson prior to the race-ending safety car with 28 minutes remaining on the clock.
It marked Porsche’s first overall prototype win in a long distance sports car race since 1989 and the first outright victory for the German manufacturer since the RS Spyder in the American Le Mans Series.
Ironically, Dumas was part of the winning lineup for the RS Spyder’s first overall win at Mid-Ohio in 2006.
Newly crowned drivers’ World Champions Davidson and Sebastien Buemi came home second, which was enough for Toyota to claim the Manufacturer’s World Championship for the first time.
The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Loic Duval, Lucas di Grassi and Tom Kristensen, in his final race, completed the overall podium in third, following a memorable closing double stint for the nine-time Le Mans winner.
Kristensen closed out his storied career with his 54th career podium in an Audi, fifteen years after giving the automaker its first race victory at Sebring in 2000.
The No. 7 Toyota and No. 2 Audi completed the top-five overall and in class, following one of the most intense races in recent history, which saw four of the six LMP1-H cars lead at one stage and often all separated by less than one minute.
Rebellion Racing, meanwhile, took LMP1-L honors with its No. 13 Rebellion R-One Toyota of Dominik Kraihamer, Andrea Belicchi and Fabio Leimer.
It came after issues for the sister No. 12 entry, which made a trip to the garage early. The No. 9 Lotus CLM P1/01 AER battled gearbox issues.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Sao Paulo