Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley have won the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, following a dramatic and nail-biting season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain that saw Porsche’s sixth win of the season.
Webber took the No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid to a fifth place overall finish, after two trips to the garage for engine and hybrid-related issues for the pole-sitting car, which dropped them down the running order and in jeopardy of winning the Drivers’ World Championship.
The No. 18 Porsche of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb claimed overall victory on Saturday, edging out the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, highlighted by an epic duel between Lieb and Benoit Treluyer midway through the race.
The two factory LMP1 drivers swapped the lead multiple times, in a return to form for the Audi, which was out front at the halfway mark in a bid for Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler to take the drivers’ title.
Their hopes, however, were dashed in the fourth hour when the sister No. 8 Audi of Loic Duval suffered brake failure, requiring a complete replacement of the left-front suspension and dropping them behind the No. 17 Porsche.
Webber, meanwhile, limped his 919 Hybrid home with engine issues, including completing the final pitstop entirely on hybrid power. The engine also cut out multiple times in the closing laps, casting questions if it would even get to the finish.
But it did, with the Australian able to claim his first drivers’ championship of any kind, alongside co-drivers Hartley and Bernhard, who also pick up their first WEC crown.
It came one race after Porsche wrapped up the Manufacturers’ World Championship in Shanghai, while Porsche also claimed all three titles in GTE-Pro on Saturday.
The No. 2 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Stephane Sarrazin and Alex Wurz, in his final race, completed the podium in third, benefiting from the attrition-filled race, but enjoying their best run of the season.
It marked only the Japanese manufacturer’s second podium finish of 2015 after a challenging year for the outgoing world champions.
LMP1 Privateer honors went to the No. 13 Rebellion R-One AER of Alexandre Imperatori, Dominik Kraihamer and Matheo Tuscher, which finished 11th overall after another incident-filled race for the non-hybrid prototypes.
Imperatori edged out the No. 4 ByKolles Racing of Pierre Kaffer by one lap for the car’s second class victory of the season and first since the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
G-Drive Racing claimed the LMP2 title with a class victory by Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal.
A late-race pass by Bird on the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan of Nick Tandy with 15 minutes to go saw the No. 26 Ligier JS P2 Nissan take the lead and claim its fourth class win of the season.
The sister No. 28 G-Drive entry of Pipo Derani, Ricardo Gonzalez and Gustavo Yacaman completed the podium in third, ahead of the Shanghai class-winning Signatech Alpine in fourth.
The winning G-Drive trio needed only a fourth place class finish or better to clinch the title. It marked the Russian-backed team’s first world title after losing it due to an accident in the season-ending race last year.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Bahrain