Final thriller in Bahrain with a big GT fight
Seven teams will head to the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain with a chance of winning FIA World Endurance Championship LMGTE Pro and AM titles, in what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to the 2017 season.
FIA GT Drivers and LMGTE Pro Teams Trophy
After an action-packed 6 Hours of Shanghai, the battle for the GT FIA World Endurance Drivers Championship remains wide open, with drivers from four cars from three manufacturers still in with a chance.
Contact between the No.91 Porsche of Richard Lietz and Jose Maria Lopez’s Toyota in the closing stages of the Chinese race not only denied 2015 Champion Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki the team’s first win with the latest iteration of the 911 RSR, but also cost them the chance of overhauling points leaders Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado in the No.51 Ferrari 488 GTE.
Italian Pier Guidi has flourished in his first season as part of the works Ferrari roster and scored three wins alongside Calado, but a low-key run to third in China allowed the second-placed Porsche pairing to close their lead to just two points and set up a fascinating winner-takes-all finale in Bahrain.
AF Corse and Ferrari will take heart from the fact that Pier Guidi and Calado could have faced a 5-point deficit had the No.91 Porsche not been demoted to second spot in China by the No.67 Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell.
The British duo rebounded from a disastrous race at Fuji to record their first win since the Silverstone season-opener. However, they can’t afford to be complacent as Priaulx and Tincknell are now just 7.5 points off the lead in third, adding another layer of complexity to the decider.
If the Ford takes pole position – which carries a bonus point – and wins the race, it will wrap up the title regardless of where the Ferrari or the Porsche finish, which will make qualifying a potentially crucial element of the championship chase.
Davide Rigon and Sam Bird in the second Ferrari are the only other drivers in mathematical contention and are 21.5/22 points adrift with 26 points to play for. Will the two factory drivers from the No.71 F488 have to play a supporting role to their team mates’ title challenge or will they be allowed to race for the crown themselves?
LMGTE Am Team and Drivers’ Trophies
The fight for the LMGTE Am Team and Drivers’ Trophies has been the tightest yet seen with just 11 points separating the top three Teams and 19 points between the top three driver pairings.
A third victory of the season in Shanghai took Aston Martin Racing trio Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana back to the top of the standings, 10 points clear of the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Matteo Cairoli, Marvin Dienst and Christian Ried.
From a deficit of one-point heading into the weekend, the No.98 Aston Martin crew turned the title race on its head with a maximum 26-point score, meaning they can wrap up a long-awaited first championship with third place in Bahrain, even if the Porsche wins and takes pole position.
The Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE of Matt Griffin, Keita Sawa and Weng Sun Mok remains in mathematical contention despite a costly collision with the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA of Tristan Gommendy in China. However, they will need their main rivals to strike serious trouble if they are to bring home a fairy-tale title in the Singaporean team’s first season in the WEC.
BMC News, International Online Magazine