The Porsche trio of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb sent out a stern warning to those looking to derail their drivers’ title ambitions after setting the pace in the first practice session held Thursday ahead of the FIA WEC Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain.
The current championship leaders steered their no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid to the top of the timesheet with a fastest lap of one minute 42.107 seconds around the 5.412-kilometre track of Bahrain International Circuit.
They were classified ahead of the two R18 Hybrids of Audi Sport Team Joest, who are looking to go out on a high note in their very last race weekend in the FIA WEC.
The team of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis powered their Audi no. 8 R18 Quattro to just 0.343 seconds from matching the best time of the pace-setters. Teammates Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer in their no. 7 R18 were third 0.408s from the top.
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s no. 6 TS050 driven by Stephan Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi were ranked outside of the top three. They are the chief title rivals of the leading Porsche trio, who enjoyed a gap of 0.758s ahead of them.
In fifth were the no. 1 Porsche car of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley; while classified sixth were Toyota’s no. 5 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
Each of the top six were in the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) category.
Leading the LMP2 class was the Alpine A460-Nissan of Signatech Alpine trio Gustavo Menezes, Nicolas Lapierre and Stephane Richelmi.
The Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Pro (LMGTE Pro) class was led by Aston Martin Racing’s J Jonny Adam and Darren Turner in an Aston Martin Vantage V8; while the LMGTE Am category had AF Corse teammates Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas in a Ferrari F458 Italia leading.
Practice two will be held later in the evening under floodlights.