Rebellion Racing have secured their second FIA World Endurance Championship pole position ahead of the 8 Hours of Bahrain whilst Porsche GT Team are the manufacturer on top of LM GTE Pro, locking out the front row of their class.
It quickly became a fight between the Privateers, with Rebellion and the #5 Team LNT both pushing each other to find extra tenths around the Bahrain International Circuit. The average time of 1:42.979 that Bruno Senna and Norman Nato ended the session with was only three tenths up on the Ginetta duo of Ben Hanley and Charlie Robertson.
Hanley has, so far, had a very impressive 8 Hours of Bahrain, setting a very competitive pace. It will be interesting to see if he can convert this with his team to tomorrow’s race or if reliability will become a factor.
After their burst of performance earlier in final practice, Toyota Gazoo Racing seemed to disappear a little during qualifying, sitting half a second off the pace with the #8 and eight-tenths off with the #7. With the event being eight-hours long tomorrow, there is plenty of time for anything to happen. They may be lacking in pace, but they certainly aren’t written out of the chance of victory just yet.
The #6 Team LNT will start fifth at the back of the class, but importantly ahead of the LMP2 cars.
United Autosports will lead the LMP2 grid away after an average time of 1:45.357 from Phil Hanson and Paul di Resta put them three tenths up on the rest of the field. Will Stevens and Gabriel Aubry tried to put the pressure on them in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing, but finished up second in class, three tenths faster than Jean-Eric Vergne and Job van Uitert in the #26 G-Drive Racing.
It was the battle of Porsches in GTE Pro, with the two being split by 0.060s at the chequered flag. Advantage went to the #91 crew of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz thanks to Bruni’s 1:55.342 – the fastest lap of the GTE qualifying session.
In comparison to the other manufacturers, Porsche walked away with qualifying. AF Corse couldn’t get within half a second of the German car brand and had to settle for third and fourth on the grid. The #51 of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi snatched third from the sister car due to Calado’s strong run.
After looking strong in the evening yesterday, Aston Martin Racing had to settle for the back of the Pro grid, completing the two-by-two pattern in the class. The #95 finished the session nine tenths off the pole-sitting pace, whilst the #97 was about a second slower than the #91 Porsche.
This tenth of a difference between the Aston Martins sees the #97 team start right at the back of the grid, behind all of the Am cars.
Ben Keating did what he needed to in the dying stages of the session, stealing pole position in the #57 Team Project 1 from the #54 AF Corse. Making a last moment improvement after the chequered flag had dropped, he found enough time on track to take pole by 0.043s. The #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche rounded off the top three in GTE Am.
The eight-hour race starts at 12:00 GMT tomorrow, and with a short track and a long race there is sure to be some drama that mixes up the order and leads to an action-packed race for all of the classes.