Toyota Take Second Consecutive Pole

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Toyota returned to the top of the time sheets in Bahrain as Kazuki Nakajima and Alex Wurz took the #7 TS030 Hybrid to Toyota’s second consecutive pole position.

The duo’s average time of 1:42.449 was enough to place them at the front of the field, closely followed by their team-mates in the #8 TS030, with Stephane Sarrazin and Anthony Davidson on driving duties for qualifying. The two Audis followed in third and fourth, just two tenths of a second off the Toyotas, setting up a thrilling battle for the final race of the season.

Pecom Racing sailed to the top of the LMP2 grid for the first time since the Six Hours of Spa earlier in the season, with Nicolas Minassian and Pierre Kaffer setting an average time of 1:50.941. They only secured pole by the narrowest of margins, however, with John Martin and Mike Conway just 0.062 seconds behind the Pecom duo in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca.

Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle were the first of the non-Oreca runners in the LMP2 class, placing the #24 OAK Racing machine in third, closely followed by WEC newcomer Jon Lancaster and Bjorn Wirdheim in the #41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan.

In LMGTE Pro, Porsche AG Team Manthey locked out the front row, with Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz taking the team’s first pole of the year. It was almost tears for the #92 Porsche 911, however, when Lietz pulled in to the pits stuck in third gear, but quick work from the Porsche mechanics allowed Lietz to return to the track with no real worries.

Championship leaders Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke line up third on the grid, alongside one of their closest rivals, Gianmaria Bruni, who this week will partner Toni Vilander in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari. Bruni’s usual partner, Giancarlo Fisichella, will race alongside Kamui Kobayashi in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari, with the team splitting them up to get two shots at taking the championship home. Fisichella and Kobayashi will start sixth.

Finally, the all-Danish #95 Aston Martin took its sixth class pole of the season in LMGTE Am, pipping the #81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari of Rui Aguas, Davide Rigon and Enzo Potolicchio to the top spot by just 0.034 seconds. The championship leading Aston Martin of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall lines up third, only 0.031 seconds ahead of the #61 AF Corse Ferrari.

With incredibly close times across all four classes, and many world titles to be decided, the Six Hours of Bahrain is shaping up to be a fitting finale to the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

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Based in Mid-Wales, James joined TCF at the start of the 2013 season, covering a range of disciplines, predominantly Motorcycle Road Racing and NASCAR. Follow him on Twitter @JCCharman
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