21/11/2017

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Kiwis Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley, along with German Timo Bernhard, finished second in their final WEC LMP1 race for Porsche in Bahrain

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It was not the fairytale finish Kiwis Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber had hoped for, but second place was not a bad way to wrap up their World Endurance Championship winning season.

The duo, joined by German Timo Bernhard, had locked up the WEC title in the previous round in Shanghai meaning there was little on the line but pride at the Six Hours of Bahrain on Sunday (NZ time).

But with Porsche pulling out of LMP1 division at the conclusion of the race, they had hoped to end on a high.

Instead, it was the Toyota No 8 car who spoiled Porsche's party by standing on the top step of the podium ahead of Hartley and co and the Porsche No 1 car driven by Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy.

Hartley, who has been confirmed as a fulltime Formula One driver for Toro Rosso in 2018, said there was some sadness after the race.

"It is good to have both cars on the podium today but it is mixed emotions. I'm honoured having been part of this programme and I will miss it," he said.

Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima won their third consecutive race to close out the season second on the drivers' standings.

The trio started the race fourth on the grid, but survived the incident packed race to end up one lap ahead of their nearest challenger. That result was made even more impressive with the revelation that Davidson drove his entire leg with a broken toe after stubbing it on the way to getting into the car.

But that incident proved little compared to what the other three contenders dealt with.

The second Toyota entry had an early collision with an LMGTE Pro car which cost them two laps, while the Porsche No 1 car picked up a flat tyre and stop-go penalty after a dangerous overtaking manouevre of a lapped car.

Bernhard started in the Porsche No 2 car, but he drove over a bollard on the third lap which got stuck under the car.

The team lost a lap removing it meaning by the time the Kiwi duo got behind the wheel, the race was out of reach.

Bernhard, who was the first test driver involved with the 919 Hybrid, was given the chance to finish the race finishing a comfortable second ahead of their sister car.

"The race result is secondary today," Bernhard said. "It is the end of great era. I'm honoured having been part of this programme from the very beginning until the last lap. A great crew, great people and great team mates. I will miss them. This programme definitely is the highlight of my career."

Bamber, who is returning to Porsche for their GT programme in 2018, said after realising the race win was out of reach, he was just trying to make the most of his final drive in the "monster".

"It was a real pleasure today as it has been for me throughout the 919 programme. Porsche came up with the crazy idea of putting a little guy from the Carrera Cup in the 919 Hybrid for Le Mans. So, I must thank everyone at Porsche who believed in the pyramid system which gave me that opportunity," he said.

Porsche spent four years contesting the WEC in the 919 Hybrid winning three WEC titles and three 24 Hours of Le Mans titles.

Hartley was involved in two WEC titles (2015 and 2017) and one Le Mans win (2017), while Bamber was part of one WEC title (2017) and two Le Mans wins (2015 and 2017).

Hartley now faces a quick turn-around as prepares for the final F1 race of the season in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next weekend.​

 - Stuff