The last round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship will settle the LM P1 Drivers’ championship, as well as all this season’s GT titles. It will also be Audi’s swansong appearance in prototype racing.
The 2016 6 Hours of Bahrain will be Audi’s 186th and last prototype endurance race. To date, the German make has notched up no fewer than 106 victories in the discipline, all with Michelin. The race’s entry for the Sakhir fixture features two Audi R18s, for Tréluyer/Fässler/Lotterer (N°7) and Duval/di Grassi/Jarvis (N°8).
They will face opposition from Porsche which has already secured the Manufacturers’ crown. Only the Drivers’ title has yet to be settled between the trio in command of the N°2 Porsche 919 Hybrid/Michelin (Dumas/Lieb/Jani, who have led since the season’s curtain raiser at Silverstone) and the crew of the N°6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid/Michelin (Sarrazin/Conway/Kobayashi). The gap stands at 17 points and the Japanese team boasts two previous Bahrain wins.
Both Porsche Team and Toyota Gazoo Racing will be able to count on the assistance of their second cars (N°1 Porsche/Michelin, Hartley/Webber/Bernhard / N°5 Toyota/Michelin, Davidson/Buemi/Nakajima) when they finalise their respective race strategies for Saturday.
All the LM GTE trophies remain to be attributed, too. In the chase for this year’s GT Drivers’ honours, Marco Sorensen and Nicky Thiim (Aston Martin) are 12 points clear of Rigon and Bird (Ferrari/Michelin), with Ford/Michelin’s Pla/Mücke a further nine points short. In the Manufacturers’ battle, Ferrari leads by 10 points over Aston Martin whose N°95 car tops the Teams’ classification, two points ahead of the N°67 Ford/Michelin. In LM GTE Am, the N°83 Ferrari/Michelin of Perrodo/Collard/Aguas needs a single point to secure the top prize.
The season’s final clash will start at 4pm local time and finish after sunset. Sakhir (5.412km) is a unique circuit and an ‘extreme’ challenge – a little like Sebring – with high temperatures and low grip due to sand blown onto the track. It is also hard on the brakes, which can have a knock-on effect on tyres.