6H Bahrain: Porsches Lead the Way in Night Practice


Porsche will head into qualifying for the World Endurance Championship finale with its tail up after its two 919 Hybrids locked out the quickest times during night practice at Bahrain.

As in FP1, Neel Jani set the fastest lap of the 90 minute session in the championship-leading #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid.

Jani will share the car with Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas during Saturday’s six hour race.

Lieb went to the top of the timesheets initially during the early running, but he was ousted by a 1:39.817s marker from his team-mate Jani after the driver change.

Second quickest, and 0.455 seconds down, was the #1 Porsche 919 driven by Brendon Hartley.

The New Zealander’s 1:40.272s effort pushed him ahead of Lucas di Grassi in the best placed Audi, which ended the session third overall.

Fourth place went to Mike Conway in the #6 Toyota TS050.

The significant upturn in pace from the Porsches was predicted by technical director Fritz Enzinger between sessions.

“We had problems back in Austin with the high temperatures but I think we should be OK here because it isn’t quite as hot,” Enzinger told The Checkered Flag.co.uk.

“Our pace in the night is expected to be good so we should have the advantage during the race after it falls dark around two hours in.”

Completing the top six were the #7 Audi of Andre Lotterer and the #5 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi.

In LMP2, Alex Brundle led the way for G-Drive Racing with a 1:50.056s marker.

That was enough to put the British driver 0.388 seconds ahead of Gustavo Menezes in the Signatech Alpine which had previously topped afternoon practice.

Third fastest and almost a second off the class pace was Richard Bradley in the #44 Manor ORECA, ahead of Filipe Albuquerque driving the RGR Sport by Morand Ligier.

Rounding out the top five in LMP2 was WEC debutant Tom Dillmann in the KFC-painted Ligier entered by Extreme Speed Motorsports.

Aston Martin Racing continued to assert its grip on the GTE-Pro field by posting the two quickest times of the session.

A 1:57.226s effort by Nicki Thiim in the all-Danish #95 Vantage ultimately topped the timesheets, with Darren Turner trailing in the sister #97 car by just 0.007 seconds.

Ford GT driver Andy Priaulx finished third fastest, ahead of the two works AF Corse Ferrari 488s and the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911.

The quickest time in the GTE-Am category was set by Pedro Lamy in the #98 Aston Martin, who dipped into the times set by the Pro field.

Qualifying for the WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain takes place tomorrow (Friday, November 18) at 17:00. A third and final free practice session is also scheduled for the morning  at 11:30 (both times local).