Racing catchup for the weekend 15-16 November


In this week’s racing catchup, we take a look at the FIA WEC with the 6 Hours of Bahrain, the WRC from Wales Rally GB and the Australian Rally Championship with the season finale from Victoria.

FIA WEC – 6 Hours of Bahrain

oyota celebrated both success in the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship and winning the 6 Hours of Bahrain race today. After a difficult race that saw the no8 Toyota TS040 spend 16 laps in the garage to change an alternator, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi took the chequered flag in 11th overall to clinch the FIA World Endurance Driver’s Championship. The sister crew of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway claimed their first race win of the 2014 season after a flawless performance in the day/night spectacular in the desert.

Filling out the podium at Bahrain were both Porsche 919 Hybrid entries with the no14 car of Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas just heading home the no20 entry of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.

Starting from pole, the no14 Porsche kept Sebastien Buemi at bay for several laps before losing out as the Toyota swept into the lead. However the pace of the two 919s were to be reckoned with throughout the race, with both cars leading during the 6 Hours of Bahrain. The German team were rewarded with their best result of the 2014 season.

The two Audi R18 e-tron quattros were 4th and 5th, with the no2 Audi of Fassler / Lotterer/ Treluyer finished one lap behind the winning Toyota and one lap ahead of the no1 R18 of Kristensen/ Di Grassi / Duval. The 22 championship points has kept Audi’s slim world championship hopes alive for the final race in Brazil in two week’s time.

The no13 Rebellion car of Dominik Kraihamer, Fabio Leimer and Andrea Belicchi won the LMP1-L class after a late race pit stop for race long leaders Nick Heidfeld/Nicolas Prost/Mathias Beche in the no12 Rebellion entry who had to pit near the end of the race to replace an alternator belt and battery. The no9 Lotus CLM-AER suffered a gearbox failure on the opening lap and Pierre Kaffer pulled off the track into retirement.

The LMP2 class saw the usual thrilling race long battle, this time between the no47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan and the title chasing no27 SMP Racing entry. KCMG’s Matt Howson/Richard Bradley and Alexander Imperatori eventually won out, taking their second victory of the season (after COTA), with a well-judged maneuver by Bradley in the fourth hour, sealing the win. The Hong Kong based team had to make a precautionary late pitstop to replace the nose of the Oreca due to a faulty headlight assembly but they came out of the pits still at the head of the LMP2 field.

Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the AF Corse No.51 Ferrari won an intense LMGTE Pro battle through the hours of darkness and, in doing so, claimed the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers. It is the Italian’s second World GT title but his first with his Finnish team mate, and Vilander’s third consecutive victory in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The pair have been formidable competitors this year and used skill, strategy and sheer determination to secure four victories from the seven races held so far this season.

While Aston Martin Racing just missed out in the Pro category, it celebrated double Championship success in the Am class. David Heinemeier Hansson and Kristian Poulsen, re-joined by Nicki Thiim for this round, scored their fourth class victory of the season to seal both the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am Drivers and the title for LMGTE Teams.

WRC – Rally Wales GB

World champion Sébastien Ogier ended the WRC season on a winning note after claiming his eighth victory of the year at Wales Rally GB on Sunday.

He mastered the muddy forest tracks to lead the three-day event from start-to-finish in a Volkswagen Polo R, measuring his pace through the final two legs to win by 37.6sec.

Mikko Hirvonen claimed an emotional second place in his final rally before retirement after holding off Kris Meeke in a titanic battle. The pair fought tooth-and-nail until Meeke damaged two tyres after skidding into a ditch this morning and plunged to sixth.

It allowed Mads Østberg to take third in a Citroen DS3, the Norwegian finishing 26.0sec behind Hirvonen’s Fiesta RS.

After five consecutive second place finishes, Jari Ketomaa won WRC 2 at Wales Rally GB but it wasn’t sufficient to prevent Nasser Al-Attiyah winning the support category world title.

Ketomaa led from start-to-finish in a Ford Fiesta R5 to lead home Lorenzo Bertelli’s similar car by 59.4sec, with Matthew Wilson a further 21.3sec back in third.

“My main target was only to win this rally,” said the Finn. “Every driver wants to win in Britain, which is one of the championship’s classic rounds, and we did that.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah – lifted WRC 2 world title

Al-Attiyah needed to finish only seventh to clinch the title but the Qatari, winner of four rounds, had a few anxious moments in his Fiesta RRC. Early gearbox problems left him eighth but a calculated recovery promoted him to sixth to net the points he needed.

ARC – Rally Victoria

Heat 2
For thirty eight years Scott Pedder has had rallying in his veins having been introduced to the sport by his father and uncle at a very young age, and today marked his crowning achievement, securing victory at Rally Victoria and in turn winning the 2014 East Coast Bullbars Australian Rally Championship.

But before he could celebrate Pedder had to make it through one of the longest days in the Championship season and on the very first stage the pressure was immediately off as rival Brendan Reeves fell foul of a flat tyre, dropping almost three and a half minutes.

“We had a flat only two kilometres into the first stage, had to pull over at the same spot to change it and then had to follow (Glen) Raymond’s dust for twenty odd kilometres,” said Reeves.

That allowed Pedder to ease off the pace which then saw the emergence of Steve Mackenzie as a driving force, the Ford Fiesta driver taking his first ever stage victory on the morning’s opening stage.

Heat 1
Scott Pedder has one hand on the Australian Rally Championship after a solid victory in this afternoon’s short Heat One at Rally Victoria. Over just four stages Pedder managed to hold Brendan Reeves at bay with a final margin of 14.5 seconds.

It wasn’t an easy run for Pedder, despite initially opening a 3.6 second lead over arch rival Reeves on the very first stage, who in turn trailed briefly in the dust left by a limping Eli Evans who had broken a driveshaft in his Honda Civic.

Recognising tyre wear was going to be a significant role Reeves took the time between the first and second stages to front-to-rear his Kumho tyres, and managed claw back 6 seconds, propelling his Mazda2 into the lead.

“We swapped our front tyres to the rear, while Scott didn’t, and it really paid off,” explained Reeves of the tyre change tactic.

With a plan to make the same move between the third and fourth stages, Reeves suddenly found himself on the back foot when a high-pitched banging began from the rear of his car and what felt like a rear puncture midway through the third stage.

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