The finale of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) held at Bahrain this weekend did not disappoint. There were countless battles on the track, including in the LMP2 class where titles were still in play up to the very last laps! In the end, the #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID driven by Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima claimed the top step on the podium!
In LMP1, victory went to the #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID driven by Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima. The trio dominated the race and scored its fifth win of the nine-race season. The Japanese car finished ahead of the two Porsche 919 Hybrids (#2 and #1) that both experienced some problems: contact with Gulf Racing UK's #86 Porsche 911 RSR for the #1 and a keel (those that delimit the track) stuck in the hood of the #2. The #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID made contact with the #92 Porsche 911 RSR mid-race and even incurred a drive-through penalty for the error. There was no surprise relative to the Manufacturers and Drivers titles (Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, winners at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year) as Porsche had already secured both at Shanghai round in China.
The battle in the LMP2 class was undecided up until the end, played out by Vaillante Rebellion's #31 ORECA 07-Gibson and Jackie Chan DC Racing's #38 ORECA 07-Gibson. A dominating force since the beginning of the season and winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the latter (second at Bahrain) lost the title to the Swiss team. The second Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07-Gibson (#13) rounded out the LMP2 podium.
With their win, Bruno Senna and Julien Canal (Nicolas Prost having missed the 6 Hours of Nürburgring) earned the FIA Endurance LMP2 Drivers title. Julien Canal enjoys an increasingly impressive track record in Endurance. A Silver driver, the Le Mans native is now a three-time title winner in the World Endurance Championship (WEC): in 2012 in LMGTE Am (Larbre Competition's Corvette C6.R ), in 2015 in LMP2 (G-Drive Racing's Ligier JS P2) and in 2017! He has participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans eight times and won three editions in a row, first in 2010 at the wheel of Larbre Compétition's Saleen S7.R along with Roland Bervillé and Gabriel Gardel, then in 2011 and 2012 at the wheel of the French team's Corvette C6.R!
The class victory and the FIA Endurance LMGTE Pro Teams trophy went to AF Corse. The #71 Ferrari 488 GTE driven by Davide Rigon and Sam Bird won the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain, but it was their teammates - Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado (#51 Ferrari 488 GTE), second in this race - who secured the World Endurance GT Drivers Champion title. The #67 Ford GT driven by Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx reached the third step on the class podium.
In the LMGTE Am class, the #98 Aston Martin Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda finished in first place. The car took definitive control on the track about mid-race. The British marque won the FIA Endurance LMGTE Am Teams trophy and the three men the Drivers title! The #98 won four races this season, including three of the last four rounds. At Bahrain, they finished ahead of Clearwater Racing's #61 Ferrari 488 GTE and the Spirit of Race team's #54.
The 2017 season has now come to a close, well almost. Today the Rookie Test will take place, also in Bahrain, with namely Fernando Alonso who was just confirmed to take the wheel of the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID he is set to share with French driver Thomas Laurent (Jackie Chan DC Racing) for the first hours of testing. Next on the horizon, the 2018/2019 Super Season, the first round of which is scheduled for Saturday, May 5th at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
2017 Titles Breakdown:
World Endurance Manufacturers Champion: Porsche
World Endurance Drivers Champion: Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard
FIA Endurance LMP2 Teams trophy: Vaillante Rebellion
FIA Endurance LMP2 Drivers trophy: Bruno Senna, Julien Canal
World Endurance GT Manufacturers Champion: Ferrari
FIA Endurance LMGTE Pro Teams trophy: AF Corse
World Endurance GT Drivers Champion: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado
FIA Endurance LMGTE Am Teams trophy: Aston Martin Racing
FIA Endurance LMGTE Am Drivers trophy: Mathias Lauda, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy
PHOTO (Copyright - FIA WEC): Julien Canal (next to Bruno Senna, helmeted) can add a second FIA Endurance LMP2 Drivers trophy to his collection which includes three wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.