Bahrain WEC: Bernhard, Hartley Take Pole for Porsche

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Porsche recorded the two fastest times during the final World Endurance Championship qualifying session of the year at Bahrain International Circuit.

Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley set an average time of 1:39.736s to seal a third consecutive pole position for the #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid, which they share with Mark Webber.

The extra point gained by the #17 crew means that they now have a 13 point cushion over the #7 Audi at the top of the standings.

Second on the grid will be the #18 Porsche of Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb, which ensured a clean sweep of one-two starts for the German manufacturer in 2015 with a 1:39.736s effort.

André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler qualified the #7 R-18 e tron quattro third overall with a 1:41.303s average, a tenth of a second faster than the sister #8 car of Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis.

Toyota will start fifth and sixth, with the #1 TS040 Hybrid leading the pair thanks to a 1:42.158s effort from Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima. Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin followed closely, registering an average of 1:42.462s in the #2 machine.

In the privateers’ battle, Rebellion Racing beat Team ByKolles as Alexandre Imperatori and Dominik Kraihamer led the way in the #13 R-One AER.

WEC Bahrain 2015

Audi settled for 3rd and 4th in qualifying (Credit: Audi Motorsport)

Signatech Alpine continued its Shanghai-winning form by taking pole position in the LMP2 class at Sakhir.

Tom Dillmann impressed on his second outing with the team, recording one of three sub 1m50 laps seen during the session. Paul-Loup Chatin was also on form, setting a lap in the low 1m50s to post an average of 1:49.993s for the French team.

The championship leading G-Drive Racing Ligier will start from second after a post-qualifying penalty demoted the KCMG ORECA behind its title rival. Nick Tandy was the guilty party, although he made up for his error by taking another flying lap immediately after his original was placed under scrutiny by the race stewards.

As a result, KCMG will start third on the LMP2 grid after Tandy and Matt Howson combined to set a 1:50.490s average.

AF Corse’s Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, who topped both of Thursday’s free practice sessions, will start from the front of the GTE-Pro grid after setting the pace once again in qualifying. The #51 Ferrari 458 Italia averaged a 1:58.347s during the 20 minute session, beating the #95 Aston Martin of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim by three tenths.


The Rigon/Calado Ferrari was demoted for an on-track infringement (Credit: Paola Depalmas/Adrenal Media)

Davide Rigon and James Calado were originally the second fastest pairing, but a steward’s decision demoted their Ferrari to the back row of the grid.

A track limits violation against Calado saw his fastest lap deleted by race control, and without a second flying lap to back up his erased effort he and Rigon were forced to surrender their grid position.

Third in GTE-Pro was the #99 Aston Martin Vantage, which eclipsed both Porsche 911s on a good day for the British manufacturer.

Despite missing out on the top spot in GTE-Pro, Aston Martin made no mistake of taking charge in the GTE-Am category as the #98 car of Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda took a second straight pole position.

The 2:00.522s effort was 0.422s quicker than the average posted by the Larbre Compétition Corvette C7.R, which starts from second. Third in GTE-Am was the championship-leading SMP Racing Ferrari, while Shanghai winners AF Corse finished the session fourth.

The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain will get underway tomorrow, November 21, at 15:00 local time (GMT +3).

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