The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) is turning onto the finish straight. Only 13 days after the race in China, round seven of the season follows in Bahrain on Saturday, November 15, and two weeks later, the finale is on the calendar. After taking victory on the Persian Gulf in 2012 and second place last year, Audi is again setting its sights on a podium position.
The conditions in the penultimate Championship round are unique. The FIA WEC does not run in the desert at any other event. The sand on the high-grip tarmac often changes the grip conditions from one turn to the other. In addition, major temperature differences are expected, as the race starts in the afternoon heat at 15.00 and ends at 21.00, long after sunset. This confronts the engineers with the challenging task of setting up the Audi R18 e-tron quattro for these contrasting conditions and developing the optimum tire strategy. But the air temperatures, as well as driving into the dark, put a major strain on the drivers too, which demands maximum concentration.
The track configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit poses a challenge as well. At the end of several long straights, the race drivers have to brake particularly hard, as the straights are typically followed by very tight turns. The few high-speed cornering sections on the other hand require good aerodynamic downforce.
In 2012 and 2013, Audi won the drivers’ and manufacturers’ classifications in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) early. However, in contrast to recent years, the brand with the four rings, since the race at Fuji four weeks ago, has not been the hunted but the hunter. In second place of the manufacturers’ standings, Audi is trailing Toyota by 29 points and 88 points in total are yet to be awarded in the two remaining races. In the drivers’ standings, Audi’s Le Mans winners, Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer, are trailing the Toyota drivers Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi by 42 points. In this classification, 52 points are still up for grabs before the end of the season. Audi will leave no stone unturned to keep the title decision open until the finale.