Bahrain 8hr: Porsche's race, AMR's drivers title in GTE Pro

JEP / Motorsport Images

Bahrain 8hr: Porsche's race, AMR's drivers title in GTE Pro

Le Mans/WEC

Bahrain 8hr: Porsche's race, AMR's drivers title in GTE Pro

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Aston Martin Racing’s Danish driver pairing Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen took the FIA World Endurance GT drivers championship at the FIA WEC season finale, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, despite never being in contention for a podium place, and despite all four Aston Martins in the race requiring unplanned brake pad changes.

The race was won in the all-factory GTE Pro class by outgoing world champion pairing Frenchman Kevin Estre and Dane Michael Christensen, their No. 92 Porsche team 911 RSR-19 untroubled after the Aston Martins and AF Corse Ferrari hit trouble.

Gianmari Bruni and Richard Lietz completed a one-two finish for Porsche in their No. 91 911 RSR-19, with AF Corse’s Miguel Molina and Davide Rigon completing the podium.

The Thiim/Sorensen No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE came into the Bahrain race with a points lead but with two other runners still able to overhaul their advantage.

Their nearest challenger was Belgian racer Maxime Martin in the sister No. 97 Aston Martin whose full season co-driver Englishman Alex Lynn was counted out for the race after testing positive for COVID-19 in the week before the event. Lynn was replaced at late notice by ex-Porsche, Corvette and Chip Ganassi Ford factory driver Richard Westbrook who joined the Aston Martin team at Le Mans in September.

That effort, too, had its challenge blunted by the braking issue, dropping the car out of contention for both a win and a podium. At one point, the whole GTE Pro field was covered by just 12 seconds until problems struck the No. 95 Aston Martin and the third title contender, the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE.

In the Ferrari, 2017 World Champion James Calado was joined by double Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro Champion, Brazilian Daniel Serra, as Calado, too, was without his otherwise full-season teammate, Italian Ferrari factory driver Alessandro Pier Guidi. The latter had been “re-purposed” in a packed weekend for endurance racing as one of the Italian factory’s key players in an assault on the season finale for the GT World Challenge Europe at Paul Richard Circuit in southern France.

The No. 51 looked well placed to mount a challenge as the Aston Martins hit trouble, but an ill-timed move to pass a back marker saw Serra make significant contact, the impact instantly breaking he rear left wheel and causing a delimitation of the tire. The damage took five laps to repair.

That left the No. 95 pair to run a cautious pace in the late stages to secure fifth in the class standings and the title, the drivers crown joining the manufacturers title having been secured by Aston Martin earlier in the season.

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