Porsche and Ferrari on pole for season finale

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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.

Sig­nat­e­ch Alpine took the pole posi­tion in the LMP2 class.

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