Porsche Falls to Toyota Gazoo Racing in LMP1 Finale at Bahrain

Porsche waves an emotional goodbye to LMP1.

© Richard (Rip) Shaub. All Rights Reserved

Saturday marked the end of the 2017 World Endurance Championship as well as Porsche's dominant reign in the series. After clinching the season title as well as winning its 19th 24 Hours of Le Mans this season, the German manufacturer has completed its international farewell tour and will now depart from endurance racing's top prototype category. The No. 1 and No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrids finished the 6 Hours of Bahrain in second and third place respectively, leaving P1 for Toyota in a sentimental moment for the sport.

The race was eventually won by the No. 8 TS050 Hybrid driven by Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Kazuki Nakajima despite Porsche starting on the pole. A tight contest was held between the two LMP1 teams through the first four hours, but in a critical crash with 2:01:13 remaining, the then-race leading 919 Hybrid crashed into a fellow Porsche in the GTE-Am category. This caused major damage and placed a stop and go penalty on the No. 1 Porsche LMP1 car, surrendering its hopes of winning in the outfit's last race entry.

“He was out really wide and I just assumed he was giving us space,” Tandy said of the No. 86 Porsche 911.

On its way to victory, Toyota had to overcome a series of issues that even included team driver Anthony Davidson breaking his toe. During an accident that occurred outside of the car in the pit lane, Davidson kicked the prototype's door and subsequently broke one of his middle digits. Despite that, Gazoo Racing continued to battle with Porsche and deny the team a win at the Middle Eastern six-hour event. 

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Valliante Rebellion drivers Bruno Senna and Julien Canal were awarded the LMP2 title after taking first place from Jackie Chan DC Racing. The duo eventually won the category after trailing the No. 38 DC Racing Oreca by as much as 50 seconds, overcoming the wide deficit in the final two hours. 

Senna and Canal led the championship going into the race and walked out with the hardware afterward, conclusively winning the event by 10-seconds. Its sister car, the No. 13 Rebellion, finished in third after colliding with an Aston Martin GTE car mid-race.

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AF Corse finished one-two in GTE-Pro and capitalized on its pole position to take the season championship. Winning drivers Sam Bird and Davide Rigon piloted the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE to victory over their teammates as well as the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx. The Italian team was awarded its GTE-Pro championship which will accompany Ferrari's fifth consecutive WEC Constructors' Title.

Aston Martin Racing's professional team finished in sixth position, sending the current-generation Vantage GTE out in its last race. During its time in the series, the Aston was the winningest GTE-Pro entry with 36 victories from 2012-2017 as well as a triumph at Le Mans this year.  It will soon be replaced by the all-new Vantage racer which is set to be unveiled next week. 

© Richard (Rip) Shaub. All Rights Reserved

Lastly, the GTE-Am category race and championship was won by Aston Martin Racing. The No. 98 trio of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda, and Paul Dalla Lana helped the team to win its fourth event of the season, beating out the Dempsey Proton Porsches for victory. 

Afterwards, Lamy said: “This is a dream come true. We’ve been trying so hard for four years now and finally, we’ve won. We were so strong in the past taking so many pole positions and race wins even when we were not in the fastest car on the grid. For so many seasons we’ve missed out on that feeling of winning a championship but now we’ve got that feeling and I’m incredibly happy. I just want to say that it’s a big honor to win this championship and to do that with Aston Martin. This is the most important one for me and to take this championship alongside Mat and Paul is really special. I’ve raced with this team now for many years and I have a lot of love for this brand”.