Mixed Results as Toyota Take Fastest Lap in Final Practice

by Alice Holloway
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 car on track at Bahrain, 2019

Brendon Hartley brought Toyota Gazoo Racing back to the front in the final practice session of the FIA World Endurance Championship 8 Hours of Bahrain this morning, whilst Phil Hanson showed the LMP2s are ready to optimise on any issues for the LMP1 cars going third fastest overall.

It’s been a bit of a slow start to the weekend for the reigning World Champions as they have struggled to find pace. Tracking their top speeds in comparison to the Privateers, Toyota seem to be losing around 40km/h to both Team LNT and Rebellion Racing.

The New Zealand driver set a 1:44.285 at the beginning of the session that remained the fastest lap throughout the hour-long practice. The only threat to the time came from Ben Hanely, who has been very quick throughout the event so far, with 30 minutes to go. He jumped the #5 Ginetta up to P2 in class with a 1:44.389, just over a tenth off Hartley’s time.

Mixed weather conditions affected the session, which is what contributed to the other three LMP1 cars being away from the front of the grid. Guy Smith led the charge of the remaining LMP1s, 2.6 second off the pace. The sole Rebellion spend most of the practice session in the garage with a currently not disclosed issues, but managed fourth in class only a couple of tenths off Smith’s time.

The #7 Toyota kept showing the Japanese team’s unexplainable weakness as it finshed bottom of the class, 3.6 second off the sister car.

Hanson did a mega job to set the fastest time of the LMP2 car which propelled him to third overall. It was looking like Will Stevens would take glory for the Jackie Chan DC Racing car again, but Hanson’s 1:45.970 saw him clear the Brit’s time by two tenths of a second. It was a JOTA Sport two-three as Antonio Felix da Costa rounded off the frontrunners with a 1:46.767.

#71 AF Corse LM GTE Pro car on track at Bahrain, 2019
Credit: Race Photography

All three manufacturers in LM GTE Pro have now led a session, with AF Corse taking glory this morning. After a tough second practice yesterday, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina resurrected their weekend by going fastest ahead of qualifying. Rigon’s 1:56.095 snatched the top spot from Aston Martin Racing #95 with fifteen minutes to go. The Dane Train of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen in the #95 separated the two Ferrari‘s at the chequered flag.

Each manufacturer has had a session they finished at the front of the class and a session where they have failed to beat some of the Am cars, suggesting that the pace across all six cars is very similar. This will hopefully lead to an action-packed eight-hour race come tomorrow.

It was a better story for Porsche in GTE Am as they secured the top two places in class ahead of the works #98 Aston Martin. #86 Gulf Racing led the way with a 1:57.221 courtesy of Ben Barker, finishing a tenth up on other Porsche-running team #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing.

Both Pro Porsche GT Team cars finished behind the top three in Am.

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