FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP
Nurburgring and Fuji included.
In the end, the title-winning No. 17
Porsche won four of the season’s eight
races, with the No. 18 crew taking the
season finale and backing that up with five
second-place finishes to earn third in points.
Splitting them was the Audi R18 e-tron
quattro of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer
and Benoit Treluyer, which won the opening
two races, pre-high-downforce 919 Hybrid.
Eluding all three combos was the
24 Hours of Le Mans, which did fall to
Porsche, albeit the “guest” 919 of Earl
Bamber, Nico Hulkenberg and Nick Tandy.
Bernhard, the experienced hand in the
title-winning lineup, had a role to play in
developing both of his teammates into the
all-’round sports car drivers they became
in 2015. As well as getting to grips with
the pure driving, Webber mastered the art
of scything through constant traffic without
losing time. Hartley, meanwhile, banished
the mistakes that had been part of his
game in his debut season with Porsche.
Hartley, 26, can’t quite believe that he
can now call himself a world champion.
“It’s everything I ever wanted when I was
a kid growing up around the race tracks
watching my dad,” offers the Kiwi. For him,
thoughts of F1 and his removal from the
Red Bull ladder program before his switch
to sports cars seem a lifetime away.
“This absolutely makes up for not getting
to F1,” he says. “Racing at Le Mans with
Porsche for the first time last year was a
dream come true, and winning a world
championship is something else again.”
Bernhard isn’t one for hyperbole and, of
course, he’s used to success in sports cars.
The German was a winner at the 24 Hours
of Le Mans in 2010 while on loan to Audi,
and he’s won the big enduros at Daytona
and Sebring. He’s a Porsche man through
and through, having been on its books since
1999 when he joined its junior program.
“I owe Porsche so much,” he says. “They
gave me the chance to be a professional
racing driver, and to secure the WEC
drivers’ title is incredible. I have Porsche
in my heart, so a dream has come true.”
Bernhard is a keen student of the sport,
a fan at heart. He even celebrated the life of
his boyhood hero, Stefan Bellof, earlier this
year at Spa when he sported a replica of the
helmet design worn by the German legend,
who died 30 years ago at the Belgian track.
For him to join a list of world champions
that includes Jacky Ickx, Bell, Hans Stuck
and, of course, Bellof probably means that,
beneath the understated demeanor, he was
celebrating just as much as his teammates.
(MAIN) With three
– Audi, Porsche and
Toyota – spending big
bucks on high-tech
winning the WEC’s
LMP1 title is a
Webber confers with
G-Drive’s Sam Bird, Julien
Canal and Roman Rusinov
took their Ligier-Nissan
JSP2 to four wins, including
the Silverstone opener and
Bahrain finale, to claim the
P2 drivers’ spoils. Rusinov
is now the joint winningest
driver in FIA WEC history,
with 12 P2 race victories.
A three-race, mid-season
victory streak, including a
double-points win at the
24 Hours of Le Mans, set
up SMP Racing’s No. 72
Ferrari 458 Italia crew of
Alexsey Basov, Andrea
Bertolini and Victor Shaytar
for GTE-Am class honors.
As in IMSA racing, BoP
adjustments made the
Porsche 911 RSR the car
to have in the second half
of the season. Richard
Lietz was GTE-Pro champ
after winning three of the
last four races with
Michael Christensen in a
factory Manthey entry.
The FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP2, GTE-Pro
and GTE-Am titles all went down to the season finale.
Porsche added to its LMP1 haul with success in GTE-Pro.
WEC’s OTHER CHAMPs