The penultimate round of the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship and the first of two races at the Bahrain International Circuit occurs this Halloween weekend, with all four championships still to be claimed. 31 cars from Hypercars to LM GTE Ams will take to the Middle East circuit for the shorter rendition of the event to try and claim the 26 points being offered (win plus the bonus pole position point).
The Hypercar class drops down to three entries as Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has withdrawn from the rest of the 2021 season. In terms of the championship, the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing and winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans; Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, lead the way with 120 points, nine more than the sister Toyota. However, Alpine Elf Matmut are still mathematically in the championship battle. With the second round at Bahrain being an eight hour event, 39 points will be available next weekend. This means that so long as the #7 crew finish sixth or lower and the #8 Toyota car is third or lower with the Alpine ahead of them both, the championship decider will be a three-way battle in a week’s time.
None of the driver line ups in the Hypercar entries have changed ahead of this weekend.
With 65 points available to be scored over the next two weekends, LMP2 is too close to call. The #28 JOTA team of Stoffell Vandoorne, Sean Gelal and Tom Blomqvist lead the class with 88 points, but between them and the #34 Inter Europol Competition driven by Jakub Smiechowski and Alex Brundle fifth in class is only 12 points. Such a tight championship means it could be anyone’s to win come next weekend’s eight hour event.
The battle of Porsche vs Ferrari continues this weekend, with the duo of works cars the only four entrants in the LM GTE Pro class. Advantage sits with the Italian manufacturer in both the manufacturers and drivers’ championships, but the battle is tight in both. For the manufacturers’, Ferrari leads Porsche 203 to 187 with everything to race for in the two Bahrain rounds of the championship. To take the championship lead ahead of the final round of the championship, Porsche needs to take a one-two and pole position this weekend. The championship cannot be settled during the 6 Hours of Bahrain.
James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi lead Kevin Estre and Neel Jani by 12 points in the drivers’ championship, having two wins and two second places to Jani and Estre’s two wins, one second and a third. The other two cars are not mathmatically in the drivers’ battle, so will be playing supporting roles to the sister cars and helping the teams out in the manufacturers’ fight. Alike the Hypercar battle, it is very likely that these championship battles will be decided next weekend.
LM GTE Am has been dominated this season by Nicklas Nielsen, Francois Perrodo and Alessio Rovera in the #83 AF Corse, having won three of the four races conducted so far this season. They hold a lead of 36.5 over second-place Felipe Fraga, Ben Keating and Dylan Pereira in the #33 TF Sport, but need to outscore the Aston Martin by 28.5 points to take the championship. Although they have a very strong lead, they will not be crowned champions until, earliest, the 8 Hours of Bahrain next week.
The 6 Hours of Bahrain gets underway at 15:30 today for first practice, with the race taking place Saturday 30th October.