Toyota Gazoo Racing picked up a one-two at the 8 Hours of Bahrain, but it was a story of what might have been for the privateer LMP1 competitors. In GTE Pro, a race-long battle between Ferrari and Aston Martin culminated in the second victory of the season for the AMR drivers Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim.
The 8 Hours of Bahrain 2019 ended in a comfortable victory for the Toyota Gazoo Racing crew. The #7 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José-María López secured victory, their second of the season, to take the lead in the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship.
Once again the Toyotas had a significant pace shortfall to overcome thanks to the FIA WEC’s new success ballast regulations. However, a flawless performance for the Toyota crews was enough to wrap up a one-two for the Japanese manufacturer.
Rebellion Racing came home in third, but it could have been a whole different story for the Swiss squad. The pole-sitting #1 Rebellion R13 of Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato got away from the line well, but a spin by the second-placed #5 Team LNT Ginetta in turn two saw the British car made contact with the rear section of the Rebellion – relegating both cars to the back of the field.
That wasn’t the end of the troubles for Rebellion, either, with a lengthy pit stop costing the team yet more time later on in the race due to a gearbox problem. However, thanks to the travails further down the pit lane at Ginetta, Rebellion still managed to pick up valuable championship points for the third-place finish.
Ginetta’s race came to a premature end, with the #6 G60-P1-LT of Mike Simpson, Chris Dyson and Guy Smith retiring on track due to an electrical issue. The Robertson/Hanley/King #5 also suffered mechanical problems and spent the final part of the race in the pits.
United Autosports the class of the LMP2 field
The #22 United Autosports squad of Felipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Paul di Resta continued their impressive form in the LMP2 class by taking a commanding victory in Bahrain.
Starting from pole, the #22 crew luckily avoided the first-lap incident and then barely put a foot wrong all race to take a well-deserved first win of the season. Second and third position went to Goodyear runners JOTA and Jackie Chan DC Racing, with the latter assuming the lead in the championship after four races.
Race-long battle ends in Aston Martin victory in GTE Pro
GTE Pro yet again provided some of the closest racing and certainly the most-exciting finish at the 2019 8 Hours of Bahrain. Victory ultimately went to the #95 Aston Martin crew of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen, who came out on top in a tight final-hour battle with the #71 AF Corse Ferrari.
The sister #97 Aston Martin Vantage of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin secured third position to make it a successful weekend for the British marque. Porsche, who locked out the front row in qualifying, could only finish 5th and 6th in class following a race marred by technical issues and lengthy pit stops.
Keating on form as Project 1 take GTE Am victory
Ben Keating was the man to make the difference in GTE Am as Project 1 took their first victory of the season in the GTE Am class. The bronze-rated Texan driver put in a triple stint at the beginning of the race to complete his required driving time, setting up professionals Jeroen Bleekemolen and Larry ten Voorde to secure a comfortable win.
The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage finished second, while the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche wrapped up the team’s first podium since the 6 Hours of Shanghai 2017.
There was drama for the championship leaders TF Sport, who battled with a fault fuel reel for much of the race before retiring the car – many laps down by this point – with half an hour of the race remaining.
Images © WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk)