Another class where a solid, reliable, trouble-free run would be enough to secure a title and, against all trends, expectations and previous WEC precedents, that’s exactly what the #72 SMP Racing boys delivered, the Russian entered 458 running as stealthily as a Ferrari 458 GTE can to a fifth placed finish, title winning joy and, we’re sure, not a little relief!
They deserve the title, a stunning run of three wins starting with the double points of Le Mans and utilising the improving form of both Viktor Shaytar and Aleksey Basov as well as the better known talents of Andrea Bertolini to full effect.
In the race though #72 would not be a factor.
Their only remaining title rivals the #83 AF Corse Ferrari though would be, Emmanuel Collard getting the car to the front, where it needed to be before the Ferrari’s pace wilted later in the race, though it would lead again in the hands of Matteo Cressoni, the Italian replacing Rui Aguas here after the regular AF Corse man suffered a hand injury in a motorcycle spill.
Eventually though the #83 could do no better than fourth, with the car that led at the start, and led well, sitting back in sixth, Paulo Ruberti again proving he can take the fight to anyone in the #50 Larbre Corvette, briefly getting amongst the Pro cars.
Gianluca Roda though would find that pace impossible to match and the Vette dropped back through the order later in the race.
The #96 Aston Martin too saw early Pro pace transition into mid race struggles, Roald Goethe’s return would have no fairytale ending this season. his plans lie elsewhere in 2016.
That left three and they put up a fine display, both Proton run Porsches ran well for the first time this season and gave us well over an hour of nose to tail running.
It would end with both cars on the podium, and the best result of the year for the #88 car, Marco Mapelli, Khaled Al Qubaisi and Klaus Bachler eventually edging out the #77 squad into third: Christian Ried, Pat Long and Marc Seefried battled hard throughout, the Porsche on Porsche battle one of the highlights of this one, but #77 would finish third.
Through all of this came renewed form for the #98 Aston Martin, Pedro Lamy in typically attacking form and Paul Dalla Lana producing another impressive driver before Mathias Lauda topped off the run with enough controlled aggression to see off a late race charge from Mapelli.
That result means a third win in the season for the #98, another season of ‘what might have been’ but with hope for improved form and luck in 2016. We wait to hear what plans emerge for Dalla Lana.
For now though the result secures a record total of WEC class wins for Aston Martin.
LMP1 and GTE Pro results see Porsche advance to 22 wins. Ferrari stay on their 22. But the #98’s win sees Aston Martin hit 23, across GTE Pro and GTE Am, a very impressive winning average indeed. With the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE once again the (brace for awful non-word) winningest car in the WEC’s now 4 season old history.