While the LMP1 World Endurance championships were settled back in Shanghai, with Porsche winning the manufacturers crown, along with Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber clinching the drivers’ title, LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am’s big prizes were still up for grabs in the finale.
In GTE Pro, AF Corse took the spoils, the Italian Ferrari team winning the first ever FIA World GT manufacturers championship at Shanghai, and later the first FIA World GT drivers championship with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in addition to the Teams championship in the Middle East.
For the team, it was its fourth manufacturers crown in five years, and for Calado and Pier Guidi, their first WEC championships.
Former GP2 racer Calado was overjoyed, although he explained to RACER that he thinks it will be a while before it all sinks in.
“I’ve been around racing for quite a while and to stand here as a world champion is just an amazing feeling.
“I’ve heard countless people say, “It hasn’t sunk in quite yet” and now I know exactly what they mean. I’m over the moon but I think that it’s only when I’m away from here, back at home with the family, that it really will sink in.
“It’s been one hell of a year, a real rollercoaster with some very bad days – including disaster at Le Mans – before it really started to come together.
“I’m looking forward to a little bit of down time but a part of me can’t wait to get started with Ferrari, with AF Corse and with the boys to getting back to it next year with what looks to be an astonishing entry.”
Pier Guidi too, was overjoyed, saying that the Bahrain race was “the best second place of my career” en route to the title in his debut WEC season with the team. The duo won three races in the hard-fought GTE Pro class, which saw three of the four marques in the category take wins and keep it close in the standings right up until the checkered flag was shown in Bahrain.
“I realize that I’m world champion, in my first year, and that’s crazy, a great feeling,” he said. “I want to thank the people who chose me to drive this car, because it’s amazing for an Italian driver to drive for Ferrari. And specifically, Amato (Ferrari). It was a difficult race because everyone else was really fast, especially early on, so we had to fight and manage tires.
“At the end we achieved our goal, and AF Corse and Ferrari dominated the class.”
And in GTE Am, Aston Martin Racing’s No. 98 Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda took the spoils. For the trio, who have come close to winning the championship on multiple occasions in the past, as well as Le Mans, the hard work has finally paid off. It’s the first WEC titles for all three drivers.
“I look around this paddock, and around this (post race press conference) room and see these superstars and think, “What the hell am I doing here?” Dalla Lana said. “This is a cool paddock and a very cool championship – a real family atmosphere not just in the team, but right across the whole field. It’s a real pleasure and a privilege to be a part of it.
“We’ve had some tough days getting here but boy, this is worth all of that; the season came together, the boys were just faster and faster and this is truly a life’s ambition. Matt and Pedro have been amazing, quick and generous, and that has helped me enormously to find more from within myself, and to enjoy it more too.”
Lamy concluded: “I love driving with these guys, it makes me feel alive again in a race car. Paul is a really cool guy, we have worked hard together, and with Matthias, but always it is done with a smile.
“To win another title with Aston Martin is special of course, and this car will always be a favorite for all of us.”