It was not quite the ending he wanted for their Porsche team as Whanganui driver Earl Bamber's victory lap at the Six Hours of Bahrain finished in a runnerup placing on Sunday.

Bamber, fellow Kiwi Brendon Hartley and Germany's Timo Bernhard had already clinched the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) heading into the final round, but had hoped to win in their last ride together, given their manufacturer will not be entering an LMP1 team next season.

The Porsche crew finished a lap behind Toyota-driving winners Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, who won their fifth round of the season, but had to settle for runnerup in 2017 with 183 points, behind the New Zealanders and Bernhard with 208.

In Bahrain, the winning Toyota TS050 Hybrid was the only leading car not to strike trouble.


Bernhard collected a circuit bollard after just seven laps and lost 80 seconds in the pits for repairs, before the trio fought back to finish second, a lap behind the leading Toyota.

The other cars from the two leading manufacturers both had incidents while lapping slower cars and needed extra pit stops to repair accident damage.

Porsche's Nick Tandy, Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer finished third and the second Toyota of Mike Conway, Juan Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi were fourth, three laps behind.

Both Bamber and Hartley will now come home for a rest, as Palmerston North's Hartley is getting married in the New Year, which will be the start of a huge 2018 as he has secured a fulltime Formula 1 drive with Toro Rosso.

Meanwhile, Bamber will remain contracted to Porsche next year but will look to add some big ticket events to his 2018 calendar.

Left in limbo by Porsche's departure from the WEC, earlier this mouth the 27-year-old confirmed some of his plans.

"It is really sad that they are stopping the programme because it is a great team," Bamber told Radio Sport.

"I will stay with Porsche, going back to the GT programme. I can't say where yet but it looks like a pretty entertaining year shaping up."

Bamber is almost certain to enter Porsche's IMSA's programme in the United States, where he has competed over previously.

CORE Autosport Head of Motorsport, Frank-Steffen Walliser, was quoted in The Drive claiming Bamber and fellow factory driver Tandy will race for his team next year.

But Bamber is also keen to try his hand at some one-off events, as well as the Pirtek Endurance Cup in Supercars.

"I would also like to try and do the big races - the Bathurst 12-hour, Spa 24 hours, Nurburgring and still Le Mans as well," he said

"I would try to do Bathurst 1000 - that would be something to tick off."

He is only interested in a Pirtek Endurance Cup drive if he can compete as a co-driver at the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast events.

In any case, Bamber can look back with pride on the best year of his career, winning the WEC title and claiming his second Le Man's victory.

"It's been very special," he told Sportscar365.

"My first mission with the Porsche factory program was with the 919 at the beginning of 2015 so that was special and I learned a huge amount.

"To come back this time, full-time, was very cool.

"It was my first time fighting for a world championship and it's been a great year with Brendon and Timo as well.

"I'm still very young at Porsche and still learning a lot so it's just a privilege to be a part of the program.

"They could have chosen anyone they'd like in the world, so to be chosen to drive that car, especially because it's the last year, is pretty special to have the chance to be here and learn from the guys. It was neat."

Timo Bernhard, right, celebrates with
Timo Bernhard, right, celebrates with "my two Kiwi boys" Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber.

Bernhard, now among the elite of endurance racing after winning the triple crown of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, said last week that Hartley and Bamber are two of the best he has seen.

"This has been a wonderful year and it will be very emotional this weekend. The time seems to have gone so fast and we have won so much.

"My two Kiwi boys, as I call them, are pure racers.

"Your country [New Zealand] develops so many great race car drivers especially since it's so small, it's amazing.

"To be honest, I'm a bit of a fan of your drivers because they are so pure and very clear in what they want. And they are just good people who are quick and not arrogant.

"[Bamber and Hartley] always tell me that I am an honourable Kiwi."