The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of André Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy took pole position at Porsche’s final FIA WEC race, the Six Hours of Bahrain, on Friday evening. GTE Pro pole went to the #71 AF Corse of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird, crucially denying the #67 Ford GT crew the extra point that could become vital in the title battle. In LMP2, the #36 Signatech Alpine pipped championship contenders Jackie Chan DC Racing and Vallainte Rebellion to pole, while Paul Dalla Lana’s #98 Aston Martin V8 Vantage secured pole position in GTE Am.
Friday’s qualifying session began with the GTE cars taking to the track against a backdrop of soft golden dusk light, with GTE Pro in particular providing a fascinating battle for supremacy. With tyre degradation at an absolute maximum around the sandy and high-temp Bahrain International Circuit, drivers needed to set a quick lap at the first attempt, or otherwise suffer from a major drop-off in performance. And that’s exactly what Ferrari driver Davide Rigon did, putting in a blistering 1:56.021 on his only flying lap and setting a benchmark that would not be reached for the remainder of the session. Rigon’s teammate in the #71, Sam Bird, duly recorded a 1:56.046 on his sole attempt, and the pole went to the #71 crew for the fourth time this season.
Second was the impressive Aston Martin Racing crew of Darren Turner and Johnny Adam in the Vantage V8’s swansong, followed by the championship-hunting #67 drivers of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. Porsche, the only other team otherwise fighting for GTE championship honours, appeared to struggle with set-up and only managed the finish sixth (#91) and seventh (#92) in the 20-minute qualifying session.
GTE Am pole went to the #98 Aston Martin Racing crew of Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda for the seventh time this season – extending their lead in the GTE Am drivers’ championship to eleven points. Starting second on the GTE Am grid will be the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari. Back in third was the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, who will need to win tomorrow and hope that the #98 crew finish fourth to be in with any chance of championship glory.
LMP1 pole went to the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy in that car’s final ever appearance, with the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 taking second position on the grid but just two tenths further back. In LMP2, the #36 Signatech Alpine crew took its third pole of the season, pipping the two championship contenders – #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing (Laurent/Jarvis/Tung) and #31 Vaillante Rebellion (Senna/Prost/Beche).
Images © WEC-Magazin / Ton Kerdijk