This Saturday the 19th of November sees the World Endurance Championship tackle the Bahrain circuit for the final race of the season. There are plenty of things to look out for, from teams and drivers and in their final race and championships to be decided. Here are five reasons why you should be watching.
While Porsche wrapped up the LMP1 Manufacturers’ Championship at the last race in Shanghai the Drivers’ Championship is still up for grabs. The #2 Porsche of Marc Lieb/Neel Jani/Romain Dumas has a 17-point lead over the #6 Toyota of Stephane Sarrazin/Kamui Kobayashi/Mike Conway. That makes the Porsche crew strong favourites but as we saw last year, anything can happen.
There’s also plenty to play for in the ultra-close LMGTE-Pro category, with five different cars in with a shout of the title.
The 6 Hours of Bahrain will be Audi’s last race with a prototype after 18 years of success. 2016 hasn’t been brilliant for Audi with just the one win; this seasons’ R18 has been fast but fragile, and they’ll be hoping to end their programme on a high with a victory. It really is the end of an era – who knows if they’ll ever return?
Last race for Webber
As well as Audi leaving, the 2015 WEC champion and F1 legend Mark Webber announced he’ll be retiring from racing at the end of the year. Although no longer in the championship fight Webber and his crew have won four of the last five races, and will be hoping they don’t have to play the team game too much so they can make it five from six.
A win would be a fitting way for Webber to end his career, and you can bet on some emotional scenes over the course of the race.
Over the years we’ve been treated to some epic racing in the WEC, and with the Audi, Porsche and Toyota being so evenly matched this year it’s likely we’ll be treated to some cracking wheel-to-wheel battles in Bahrain.
Even if by some miracle LMP1 doesn’t deliver you can be sure there’ll be something good happening in one of the other classes and Bahrain tends to produce good racing, whatever the championship. Also, watching 1000bhp+ LMP1 cars blast past Ferrari’s and Aston Martin’s like they’re standing still never, ever gets dull.
Six hours may sound like a long time to sit down and watch a race, but by the end you’ll be wondering where all the time went – and wishing for more.
The end of an era
Although Audi’s withdrawal and Webber’s retirement the biggest news, they aren’t the only things we’ll be waving goodbye to in Bahrain. Some of the incredibly successful Audi drivers will be left without a seat next year and may choose to retire, and rumour suggests that there are Porsche and Toyota drivers who may not be on the grid next year either.
Rebellion are stepping down from their current LMP1-L class to compete in LMP2 next year, which means that the utterly gorgeous Rebellion R-One is racing for the last time as well. And speaking of LMP2, this is the last race for the current generation of cars – rule changes for next year will make for a faster (but slightly less varied) grid.