With three hours remaining of the 2016 6 Hours of Bahrain, Audi continues to control proceedings, running 1-2 up front with the #8 R18 of Oliver Jarvis and later Lucas Di Grassi leading the race. The big story though, was the #83 AF Corse Ferrari squad winning the GTE Am Drivers and Teams titles as its championship rivals in the #98 Aston retired at the halfway mark.
At the head of the other classes, Alpine and Aston Martin are holding station in LMP2 and GTE Pro while further down the order Abu Dhabi Proton’s Porsche charged through take the lead in Am.
For Audi, the #8 wasn’t able to hold the lead for the entire second and third hour. Jarvis, on an alternate strategy to Andre Lotterer in the #7, gave up his lead after 90 minutes of action but gained it back after the Audi mechanics fumbled the left-rear wheel change during the third round of stops, costing the car 11 seconds.
Third on the screens and unable to challenge is the #1 Porsche, just over 50 seconds off the leader, keeping the #5 Toyota TS050 at bay. The #6 Toyota continues to circulate in fifth, a lap ahead of its championship rival #2 Porsche in sixth.
The #2 Porsche, after its freak puncture during the first hour has managed to keep up a consistent pace, but Romain Dumas complained of a handling imbalance during his stint. The championship-leaders just need to bring it home.
In LMP2 it’s been plain sailing for the Signatech Alpine crew, which is on course for its fifth win of the season. Nicolas Lapierre had to fight Bruno Senna for the lead briefly after the class’ third stop, but leads the class by 14 seconds over the #31 ESM Ligier. Third on the road is the #43 RGR Ligier.
In GTE Pro, Aston Martin ran 1-2 up front after Nicki Thiim muscled past Gianmaria Bruni for second, which would turn out to be crucial. Darren Turner, who was leading the class lost a wheel just at the turn of the hour, forcing the race officials to call a Full-Course Yellow and the Aston mechanics to bring the #97 in for a new tyre and a check up. The issue resulted in the #97 dropping to last in Pro, a lap down, handing the #67 Ford the final podium spot.
It was an even worse stop for AMR in Am however, as the #98 ground to a halt on the circuit with a blown engine – at the same time that the #97 had its issue – handing the #83 AF Corse the title. The Vantage – which needed to win in order to have any chance to taking the Am titles – failed to make it back to the circuit settling things in the standings.
At the head of the Am field meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche slingshotted into the lead during Pat Long’s first stint, before handing over to David Heinemeier Hansson who consolidated the team’s lead. KCMG meanwhile has climbed to second, with the Larbre Corvette falling to third after leading during the start of the second hour.