Double Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion Rene Rast got his quest for a third straight title off to the best possible start with a straightforward victory in the first of two races in Bahrain.
It was another Lechner Racing-run car on pole position, driven by last year's runner-up Norbert Siedler. Rast got the better start from the front row to take the lead, and although the pair made contact later on the opening lap, Rast was never challenged again for the rest of the ten lap race.
“After I overtook Norbert Siedler before the first corner and fended off his counterattack it turned into a rather calm race,” said Rast, whose deal to continue in the Supercup only came together at the last minute. “I kept an eye on my tyres and held onto my advantage. It can continue like this for tomorrow's race.”
In second place at the finish was another driver whose Bahrain presence was only confirmed on the eve of the season. Starting third, Sean Edwards slipped behind new Konrad Motorsport teammate Christian Engelhart at the start, as the latter chased a repeat of his season-opening win from last year in Turkey. The Brit soon regained his place, and then chased after Siedler and got by at the start of the third lap.
“My race was good and I earned plenty of points,” said Edwards. “At the start I had too much wheelspin and that enabled Christian Engelhart to slip past me. Later I was able to overtake Christian again. RenÃ© Rast was simply too fast today, so I didn't even attempt to put him under pressure and take any unnecessary risks. I'm okay with second place.”
Siedler said: “My start wasn't the best. RenÃ© Rast and I touched slightly. I pushed too hard in the first four laps to make up the lost positions and that's why my tyres deteriorated and I had to let Sean Edwards pass me. Tomorrow I'm starting again from pole position, so I have a second chance to bring home victory.”
Supercup debutant Michael Ammermuller made it three Lechner cars in the top four, after qualifying seventh. The ex-GP2 racer got the better of his more experienced fellow German Engerlhart on lap six.
Sebastiaan Bleekemolen made a flying start from 11th on the grid to finish in sixth place, despite a rather physical tussle with Stefan Rosina. Nikki Thiim was seventh, ahead of Kuba Giermaziak and Kevin Estre, while debutant Patryk Szczerbinski finished tenth.