Toyota Top Opening Session In Bahrain

by James Charman

Toyota set the early pace in Bahrain, topping the opening Free Practice session of the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Under sunny skies and with temperatures at 25°C, Alex Wurz took the #7 Toyota TS030 Hybrid to the top of the standings with a time of 1:43.192, over half a second faster than the second placed #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer. Over a second further back was the second Audi of Tom Kristensen, while the #8 Toyota was just 0.06 seconds off the #2 Audi. Rebellion Racing rounded out the top five, using the final rounds of the 2013 season to prepare for 2014, having already wrapped up the Privateers’ title.

The battle for the top spot in LMP2 saw OAK Racing‘s Alex Brundle narrowly beat G-Drive Racing‘s John Martin with a time of 1:52.389. Martin was just half a second behind Brundle’s Morgan-Nissan, while Martin Plowman took third in the points-leading sister car.

Aston Martin made the best start possible as they look to secure all five GTE titles in Bahrain. Darren Turner took the championship-leading #97 Vantage GTE to the top of GTE Pro with a time of 1:59.565, the only GTE car to break the two-minute barrier. Toni Vilander took the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia to second, almost a second behind Turner’s time, but only one thousandth of a second ahead of the #92 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR of Marc Lieb.

Finally, Aston Martin also topped GTE Am, with Nicki Thiim setting a fastest lap of 2:00.851 in the #95 Vantage GTE, four tenths ahead of Paolo Ruberti‘s #99 Proton Competition Porsche 911. Jean-Karl Vernay rounded out the top three in the #76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911, just one tenth of a second behind Ruberti’s Porsche.

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