Toyota took a comfortable victory in less than comfortable conditions at the 2021 Six Hours of Bahrain. In GTE Pro, Porsche took a one-two to set up a nail-biting championship finale.
Temperaturen jenseits der 30 Grad Celsius, eine Strecke mit wechselten Bedingungen und unterschiedlich starker Reifenbelastung waren prägend für das fünfte Saisonrennen der FIA WEC. Die schwierigen Wüsten-Bedingungen machten es den Teams extrem schwer, Attacken zu starten, ohne einen größeren Schaden zu riskieren. Entsprechend ruhig und verhalten war die Action auf der Strecke.
Air temperatures north of 30°C and track temperatures closing in on 45°C made the fifth round of the FIA WEC a real challenge for the 31-car field. Extreme tyre wear made it difficult for drivers to go on the attack without suffering with tyre issues later in the stint. Caution and consistency were the keys to the race.
Bei den Hypercars kämpfte Toyota auf weiter Flur gegen sich selbst. Die #36 von Alpine war im Gegensatz zu den Konkurrenten von Glickenhaus zwar angereist, hatte jedoch keine Chance, das Tempo der Japaner mitzugehen. Nach sechs Stunden konstanter Leistung holte die #7 den Sieg im Rennen. Die Plätze zwei und drei gingen an den Schwesterwagen #8 und den Alpine #36.
At the head of the field it was an all-Toyota battle for the win. The third car in the LMH class, the #36 Alpine, was able to keep in touch on pace, but as usual had a disadvantage in terms of stint length.
A couple of minor issues for the #8 car, including a pit-stop tyre issue, saw the #7 crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and José María López build a gradual lead over the course of the six-hour race. The trio held the lead for much of it and crossed the line with around a 50-second advantage. Kobayashi, Conway and López now hold a 15-point advantage in the drivers’ championship with one round of the season remaining.
The fight for the race win the GTE Pro category was a subdued affair in Bahrain. Both teams likely had a firm eye on the final round of the season the following weekend. The Porsches appeared to hold an overall advantage on pace and tyre wear in the hot conditions.
Victory went to Kévin Estre and Neel Jani in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR, ahead of the sister car of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz. Third were James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari.
Pier Guidi and Calado’s third place leaves them with a wafer-thin one-point advantage in the drivers’ championship ahead of the final round. The manufacturers are also only separated by a single point going into the last race of the year.
LMP2 and GTE Am provide the action
Ohne die privat eingesetzten Fahrzeuge wäre das ohnehin schon glanzlose Rennen ein wahres Trauerspiel geworden. Einzig die Wagen der LMP2 und LMGTE-Am boten einige Überraschungsmomente und sorgten für Abwechslung im Rennen. Aufgrund der vollen Starterfelder gab es in beiden Klassen des Öfteren kleine Rad-an-Rad-Kämpfe und Positionsduelle.
Most of the race action in the Six Hours of Bahrain came in the privateer classes, LMP2 and GTE Am. Team WRT were victorious in LMP2 after assuming the lead at the halfway stage. Victory the #31 crew saw the Belgian team take the lead in the championship with one round remaining.
Second and third went to the JOTA team, with the #28 finishing just ahead of the #38. All three go into the finale round of the season with the chance of championship glory.
The #33 TF Sport Aston Martin was victorious in GTE Am. Ben Keating’s squad were strong throughout the race but were pushed hard by the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche squad. In the end, the #33 crossed the line just five seconds ahead of the #77, with the #56 Project 1 Porsche a further three seconds behind in third.
If you missed the race you can read through all of the action in our Live Ticker. Full race results from the Six Hours of Bahrain are available here. The WEC season finale takes place in just seven days’ time, also in Bahrain, and will be run over a total of eight hours.