Driving the No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid, the trio finished in fifth position after recovering from technical problems which saw them lose nine laps to the leaders for visits to the pits.
With the sister No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas winning the race ahead of the No.7 Audi Sport Team Joest car of André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoit Tréluyer, it ensured that the No.17 Porsche drivers enjoyed a five point advantage in the final provisional championship standings.
After four straight victories at Nürburgring, COTA, Fuji and Shanghai, the No.17 Porsche drivers were deserving champions after a tough and thrilling campaign where they fought tooth and nail in a riveting title contest with the No.7 Audi drivers.
Ironically it was the most challenging race of the season for the new champions, as an engine actuator problem lost them several laps and threw into doubt their chances of taking the crown.
The problems struck after just thirty minutes when Timo Bernhard was forced to pit and the car lost eight laps. A fine recovery drive ensured that they were soon back in to the top six but, at that stage with the No.7 Audi leading the race, they still needed to place fourth to take the title.
After a brake disc problem struck the No.8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, and the No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid fought through to the front of field after a thrilling fight with the Benoit Tréluyer driven Audi, it ensured that the No.17 Porsche would have sufficient points to take the title.
“It was super stressful, but thank God we got our car home,” said Webber. “It wasn’t the cleanest day, but we had enough points and had enough wins this year to be world champions.
“Typically, that just shows the fighting qualities of the team. We had a hard day today, a real hard day. We had some issues that we had to manage all through the race: the engine actuator was playing up a lot.Timo and Brendon did an awesome job as well. We did what we could and it was enough.”
He was forced to make an unscheduled stop after losing power on track several times. The Australian was even forced to complete the resulting pit stop on the hybrid system alone, before bringing the car home in fifth place.
Celebrating a long overdue win in the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain today, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas drove a flawless race to maintain Porsche’s six race unbeaten streak in the FIA WEC.
After a scintillating fourth hour battle with Benoit Treluyer’s Audi, Marc Lieb was able to build a small gap before handing over to Neel Jani who pulled away to secure the victory and thus, in turn, assist the No.17 crew to take the title.
Claiming third in the LMP1 class and ensuring a hugely popular first podium of the season was the No.2 Toyota Racing Toyota TS 040 HYBRID. Alex Wurz was able to see off his career from the podium and receive the applause of the whole paddock as he bids farewell to an incredible career.
The last race for the Toyota TS 040 designated LMP1 car also netted a fourth place as Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and Sébastien Buemi finished just 1.117 seconds behind.
There was more of the season-long frustration for the No.8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro trio of Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis. They led for periods during the first half of the race, but a front left brake disc problem dropped them out of contention, and they ultimately finished a disappointed sixth.
The LMP1 Privateers class saw a clear victory for the No.13 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER of Dominik Kraihamer, Mathéo Tuscher and Alexandre Imperatori. It was the second victory of the season for the No.13 car after they capitalised on some technical problems for the sister Anglo/Swiss car of Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche.
Bird, Canal, Rusinov sign-off stellar season with win and title
The No.26 G-Drive Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal took the silverware in both the LMP2 Drivers’ and Teams’ championships in style with a late charge to victory. Sam Bird overtook Nick Tandy’s KCMG ORECA in the closing stages to confirm a fourth win of the season.
It was a typically close and exciting LMP2 race that saw not only the KCMG ORECA 05 of Matt Howson, Richard Bradley and Nick Tandy lead at stages, but also the Signatech Alpine of Tom Dillmann, Paul-Loup Chatin and Nelson Panciatici.
Ultimately it came down to a straight battle between KCMG and the G-Drive No.26 in the final stint when the Russian team took on new left hand side tyres which enabled Sam Bird to hunt down and overtake Nick Tandy for the victory.
The battle for the final podium position in LMP2 was intense between the Nelson Panciatici driven Signatech Alpine and the No.28 G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan of Pipo Derani, who made a sensational last lap pass into turn one to claim the position. This secured the sixth podium of the season for the car which the young Brazilian shares with Gustavo Yacaman and Ricardo Gonzalez.
It was a suitably spectacular and nail-biting end to what has been an exceptional 2015 FIA WEC season, one that will be remembered for many years to come.
Porsche and Lietz – 2015 World GT Champions
The 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship came to a thrilling conclusion this evening with action and drama from the start until the chequered flag. Porsche triumphed in the LMGTE Pro category to lift the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers for the first time, beating three time champions Ferrari into second place.
The no92 Porsche Team Manthey 911 of Frederic Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet scored their first victory in 2015 ahead of the no51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of outgoing champions Toni Vilander and Gimmi Bruni. A difficult weekend for the no92 Porsche Team Manthey Porsche of Ricard Lietz and Michael Christensen saw the Austrian-Danish duo finish in 5th place but theis was good enough to secure the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers’ for Lietz, giving the German manufacturer a clean sweep in both the LMP1 and LMGTE Pro categories.
The LMGTE Am title was secured by the no72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia of Andrea Bertolini, Alexsey Basov and Victor Shaytar, the Russian team and Russo-Italian trio adding the 2015 World Endurance title to the 24 Hours of Le Mans victory back in June and the 2014 European Le Mans Series crown. They finished in 5th after a difficult weekend but their only rivals in the no83 AF Corse Ferrari could only manage to finish 4th when nothing less than a victory would do for François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Matteo Cressoni.
The LMGTE Am class was won by the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy, the winners of Silverstone and Spa returning to winning ways in the final race of the year after starting the 6 Hours of Bahrain on pole position.
The early race pace was set by Toni Vilander in the no51 AF Corse Ferrari from pole position but the Finn soon came under pressure from the no92 Porsche of Patrick Pilet, the French driver moving ahead of the no97 Aston Martin of Jonny Adam and then moved up to second place when the no99 had to serve a 3-minute stop and go penalty for using an extra set of tyres above the permitted amount in the regulations. Pilet passed Vilander on the inside of the last corner to take the lead 20 minutes into the race.
The no71 Ferrari and no44 AF Racing LMP2 entry collided at T8, dropping James Calado down to 5th place. This was not the only issue for the no71 Ferrari as later in the race the front left wheel became detached following a pitstop and the F458 had to limp back to the pits for a replacement, putting the Anglo-Italian duo out of contention for the drivers’ title.
The All Danish no95 Aston Martin Vantage was also up at the front at the end of the first hour with Nicki Thiim passing Vilander’s Ferrari for second place before heading to the pits for the first stop.
As the race progressed the no92 Porsche of Pilet and Makowiecki tightened their grip on the winners trophy, with the no51 Ferrari dropping back but still fighting for 2nd place ahead of the two Aston Martins, the no97 Vantage eventually getting the better of the no95 car.
In LMGTE AM the no50 Larbre Competition Corvette of Paolo Ruberti got a great start to move to the head of the field and for most of the first half of the race the team was challenging at the front of the GTE Am field before fading away in the second 3-hours, finishing the race in 6th in class.
The two Porsche 911s also got involved with the challenge for the lead with the no88 Abu-Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche of Klaus Bachler hitting the front of the field at the 3 hour mark after starting the race from the back of the grid. The no77 Dempsey Proton Racing 911 of Patrick Long was also involved with the battle for the lead and took their turn at the front of the LMGTE Am field.
In the final hour the no98 Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy made its move and Mathias Lauda followed it up with a superb drive to the flag to take the class win ahead of the no88 Porsche, with Klaus Bachler, Khaled Al Qubaisi and Marco Mapelli equalling the teams best finish of 2015 in second place.
As the race drew to a close the no92 Porsche took the chequered flag to take the first win of the season and with Richard Lietz in the no91 car coming home in 5thto secure enough points to move Porsche ahead of Ferrari in the Manufacturers’ championship and secure the Drivers’ title for himself, there was jubilation in the Team Manthey pit.
The SMP Racing Ferrari stayed out of trouble for the entire race finishing in 5th to secure enough points to secure the 2015 crown.
The 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship has now finished and all that remains is to present the champions trophies at the awards ceremony in Bahrain on Sunday evening.