FIA WEC: Bernhard, Hartley, Webber On Pole For Porsche At Bahrain
Photo: Porsche

The qualifying for the final race of the FIA World Endurance Championship has taken place at Bahrain International Circuit. Here's what happened in the qualifying.


Brendon Hartley in the No. 17 Porsche Team set the early pace in the LMP1 class. He was followed by Romain Dumas in the No. 18 Porsche, 0.560 seconds behind. The two Audi Sport Team Joest entries were behind the Porsches; Marcel Fässler in the No. 7 Audi was third, 0.846 second from leader, and Loïc Duval in the No. 8 Audi was fourth, 1.577 seconds from leader.

That remained as the order at the top of the LMP1 field after the second drivers' attempts. 1:39.670 by Timo Bernhard in the No. 17 Porsche was the fastest lap of qualifying and the No. 17's average lap time was 1:39.736. The pole position extended the championship lead of Hartley, Bernhard and Mark Webber by one extra point, now 13 points to the No. 7 Audi crew. That also means that the Porsche Team swept the pole positions of all this season's eight races.

Marc Lieb finished the session for the No. 18 Porsche in second place, 0.364 seconds from pole. André Lotterer completed the No. 7 Audi's qualifying session 1.567 seconds from pole, and Lotterer, Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer will start their attempt to catch No. 17 Porsche crew's 13 point lead in third place. However, a top four result would secure the title for the No. 17 Porsche crew even if the No. 7 Audi won the race.

Oliver Jarvis finished the session for the No. 8 Audi in fourth place, 1.671 seconds from pole, followed by the two Toyota Racing entries. The No. 1 Toyota was fifth, 2.422 seconds from pole and the No. 2 Toyota was sixth, 2.726 seconds from pole.

The LMP2 winner of the previous round at Shanghai, the No. 36 Signatech Alpine entry qualified on class pole for the season finale. They were in second place after the attempts of the silver-rated driver Tom Dillmann, though gold-rated Paul-Loup Chatin managed to improve their position to claim the pole with an average time of 1:49.993. The LMP2-championship second-placed No. 47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan was second, 0.067 seconds from leader. The championship-leading No. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier Nissan was third, 0.109 seconds from leader. A top-four finish in the race would secure the title for the No. 26 G-Drive entry, no matter how the KCMG entry performs.

However, the best lap time of KCMG's Nick Tandy was discarded for exceeding track limits. That promotes the No. 26 G-Drive Racing entry to second place and the No. 47 KCMG entry is positioned third.

GTE-Pro & -Am

The GT classes' qualifying was stopped after just under two minutes due to a floodlight system failure at the track. 20 minutes after the planned start time, the session was finally restarted and the remaining time of the session was returned to original 20 minutes.

Jonny Adam in the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing entry set the early pace in the GTE-Pro class. He was followed by the two AF Corse Ferraris, the No. 71 of Davide Rigon in second place 0.036 seconds behind and No. 51 of Toni Vilander in third place 0.203 second behind.

After the second drivers' attempts, the order of the top three turned upside down. Gianmaria Bruni qualified the No. 51 Ferrari on class pole with an average time of 1:58.347. James Calado qualified the No. 71 Ferrari in second place, 0.033 seconds behind leader, and Nicki Thiim qualified the No. 95 Aston Martin in third place, 0.312 seconds from leader.

However, the No. 71 Ferrari was penalized for exceeding track limits and the best lap of James Calado was discarded. That moved the No. 71 Ferrari to the back row.

It was a weak qualifying for Porsche Team Manthey. Following the No. 71 Ferrari's penalty, the No. 92 Porsche was promoted to fourth place, 0.641 seconds from leader. The GTE-Pro teams' championship-leading No. 91 Porsche with GT drivers' championship leader Richard Lietz was the slowest GTE-Pro car before the No. 71 Ferrari's penalty, though got promoted to sixth place, 1.460 seconds from leader. While Lietz needs only a seventh place among all GT cars to secure the drivers' title, the No. 91 Porsche needs to make the GTE-Pro podium to win the teams' title if the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari wins the race. Besides, Porsche is five points behind Ferrari in GT manufacturers' standings following today's qualifying.

In GTE-Am, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing entry claimed the pole position. Pedro Lamy was the fastest of the first qualifying drivers and the bronze-rated driver Paul Dalla Lana was able to keep the car on top of the GTE-Am timesheet with an average time of 2:00.522. The No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette qualified in second place, 0.422 seconds from leader, and the GTE-Am championship leader, No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari, qualified in third place, 0.466 seconds from leader. In the field of seven GTE-Am cars, finishing the race will guarantee SMP Racing and its drivers' the class titles.

The Six Hours of Bahrain will start on Saturday at 3:00 pm local time (7:00 am Eastern time).