Fi­nal win for Ger­man man­u­fac­turer as Porsche’s Jani, Lieb and Du­mas seal ti­tle

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Rob Lad­brook

For­mula 1 com­mer­cial ex­pert Zak Brown has ac­cepted an of­fer to join Mclaren as its ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Mclaren last week placed cur­rent CEO Den­nis on gar­den­ing leave fol­low­ing weeks of board­room tur­moil be­tween the firm’s ma­jor stake­hold­ers. Den­nis’s con­tract runs out in Jan­uary, at which point he will leave the or­gan­i­sa­tion, but will still re­tain a share­hold­ing.

Den­nis owns 25 per cent of Mclaren, with long-term busi­ness part­ner Man­sour Oj­jeh own­ing an equal mea­sure and the Bahraini in­vest­ment fund Mum­ta­lakat own­ing the other 50 per cent.

Re­ports sug­gest the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Bahrai­nis and Den­nis broke down fol­low­ing a failed takeover bid from Den­nis and a con­sor­tium of Chi­nese in­vestors.

Mclaren ap­pears to have found a suc­ces­sor in the form of Amer­i­can busi­ness­man Brown, who is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est be­cause of his spon­sor­ship suc­cesses in F1 through his for­mer role at JMI (Just Mar­ket­ing In­ter­na­tional).

Mclaren has lacked any form of ti­tle spon­sor since Voda­fone ended its con­tract at the end of 2013.

Brown, a for­mer pro­fes­sional rac­ing driver him­self, also had an of­fer on the ta­ble to join new For­mula 1 owner Lib­erty Me­dia, but has opted for Mclaren. He will work along­side Mclaren chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Jonathan Neale.

Brown said: “I’m im­mensely proud to be join­ing Mclaren Tech­nol­ogy Group. I have the ut­most re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for what the busi­ness has achieved to date, and I look for­ward to con­tribut­ing to the next im­por­tant phase in its de­vel­op­ment.

“Hav­ing worked closely with Mclaren for many years, I’ve been struck by the tal­ent and am­bi­tion of the en­tire work­force, and I very much look for­ward to com­ple­ment­ing the busi­ness’s many ex­ist­ing strengths, and build­ing on them to drive fu­ture suc­cess in ev­ery­thing we do.”

Audi bowed out of the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship with a dom­i­nant one-two fin­ish in last week­end’s Six Hours of Bahrain, as the Porsche crew of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Du­mas sealed the driv­ers’ ti­tle.

Loic Du­val, Lu­cas di Grassi and Bri­ton Oliver Jarvis took their sec­ond WEC vic­tory to claim sec­ond in the ti­tle race. Both Audi R18 e-tron quat­tros spent the ma­jor­ity of the week­end on top, with Du­val lead­ing the early stages of the race from pole ahead of the sis­ter car.

Andre Lot­terer took con­trol af­ter pass­ing Jarvis fol­low­ing the first round of stops, but a slow pit stop later would set the num­ber seven Audi back to sec­ond. A mid-race full course yel­low al­lowed Audi to split its strate­gies, with Benoit Tre­luyer putting the num­ber seven ahead again. But Du­val opted to dou­ble-stint his tyres to the flag and caught and passed the sis­ter car.

“There’s no sweeter way to end such a project than with a 1-2 vic­tory,” said Audi Sport boss Dr Wolfgang Ull­rich. “It was a very emo­tional race and the en­tire WEC made it very dif­fi­cult for us to quit.

“To­day, you could tell that we’ve grown into a big fam­ily over many years. What hap­pened in the WEC will not re­peat it­self. These 18 years of the sportscar project have been a very im­por­tant part of my pro­fes­sional life and I have been very for­tu­nate to work along­side such fan­tas­tic peo­ple.”

Jarvis added: “We had a fan­tas­tic year and the week­end was very emo­tional and it’s the per­fect con­clu­sion to Audi’s sportscar pro­gramme. Now we’re leav­ing the WEC in the hands of two very strong teams – Toy­ota and Porsche. Audi will be missed by many, but the cham­pi­onship is in­cred­i­bly strong nonethe­less.”

Timo Bern­hard, Bren­don Hart­ley and Mark Web­ber took third place in what was Web­ber’s fi­nal pro­fes­sional race be­fore his re­tire­ment from the sport. Du­mas, Jani and Lieb se­cured the ti­tle in sixth place, fin­ish­ing three laps down af­ter a col­li­sion with a GT car.

The two Toy­otas took fourth and fifth to split the Porsches.

The Jota Sport-run G-drive ORECA fought from the back of the grid to win the LMP2 di­vi­sion. Alex Brun­dle, Rene Rast and Ro­man Rusi­nov lost their pole po­si­tion to a tech­ni­cal in­fringe­ment but re­cov­ered to win their third-straight WEC event.

As­ton Martin’s Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen wrapped up the GT driv­ers’ ti­tle with vic­tory in the GTE Pro class. The Pro­ton Rac­ing Porsche of Khaled Al Qubaisi, David Heine­meier-hans­son and Pa­trick Long won GTE AM.

Pho­tos: LAT

Brown has agreed deal

Pho­tos: LAT

Cham­pi­ons Lieb, Du­mas and Jani (L-R) Audi ended on a high with a one-two Sec­ond win of sea­son for Audi

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