It was a day of extreme highs and lows for many of the entrants in the LMGTE Pro and Am classes of the 6 Hours of Bahrain. At the chequered flag for the final round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, it was Ferrari and AF Corse who were celebrating after winning three titles including the coveted World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers by a margin of 8.5 points over Aston Martin.
The No.51 Ferrari 458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander dominated the race after the first 40 laps, crossing the finish line to wild applause from the AF Corse team who – like the two drivers, performed faultlessly throughout the race. Following the demise of the two LMGTE Pro Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8s, both to an engine problem, Ferrari was unchallenged in securing the World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers and, for Bruni, the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers.
Aston Martin Racing had been looking in line to win the GT Manufacturers’ title, thanks to the No.99 Vantage V8 of Bruno Senna, Pedro Lamy and Richie Stanaway but suffered heartbreak when it was brought into the pits with the terminal engine issue. This followed the earlier retirement of the No.97 Vantage of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke who had been leading the LMGTE Pro Drivers’ points classification going into the race.
Second in class went to the No.91 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet, ahead of the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari of Kamui Kobayashi and Giancarlo Fisichella. Although the Italian had driven with Bruni for the remainder of the season, the decision by Ferrari to split the pairings for this final race means that on the third step of the podium applauding his friend and team mate instead of alongside him. Fourth in class was the No.92 Porsche 911 RSR of Marc Lieb, who overcame sickness to compete today, and Richard Lietz.
Softening the blow for Aston Martin Racing was the double success of a race win for the No.95 Vantage V8 of Nicki Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard, and the sealing of the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am Drivers’ title for Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall. Their fifth place finish, secured with their team mate Roald Goethe, was enough to confirm that the title was theirs.
Second in class was the No.81 8Star Motorsport Ferrari and this result was good enough to give the American/Italian team, which is run in association with AF Corse, the LMGTE Am Teams’ title by 3 points over Aston Martin Racing’s No.96. The No.76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche of Raymond Narac, Jean-Karl Vernay and Markus Palttala saw its chance of winning titles wiped out by contact with a prototype. The repairs to its damaged suspension meant that it finished 11 laps behind the class leader. Third in LMGTE Am went to the No.61 AF Corse entry of Matt Griffin, Emanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo – the result adding icing to Italian team’s cake.
2014 will soon be upon us and the battles seen this season will recommence at Silverstone on the 20th April.