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FIA WEC: 6 Hours of Bahrain – Buemi, Davidson, Bruni, Vilander, ‘Dane Train’ champions

The #14 Porsche 919 Hybrid took pole, driven by Neel Jani and Romain Dumas to a four-lap average of 1 min 43.145 sec. Championship leaders Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson posted the second fastest time, 0.264 sec back in the #8 Toyota Racing TS 040 Hybrid. Jani was also fastest in Free Practices 2 and 3.

G-Drive Racing (Ligier JS P2-Nissan) topped LMP2 for the sixth time this season, Roman Rusinov and Olivier Pla behind the wheel. The #27 SMP Racing Oreca-Nissan piloted by Nicolas Minassian and Maurizio Mediani was second fastest in class.

The GTE Pro leaders also started second. Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke posted the fastest qualifying time (1:58.805) in the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8, 0.270 sec ahead of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia. AF Corse’s #71 sister car started third, driven by Davide Rigon and James Calado. The #95 Aston (Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeier-Hansson, and Nicki Thiim) topped GTE Am at 1:59.589.

The LMP1 running order remained intact through the first 45 min, the #7 Toyota driven by Alex Wurz in third, 7 sec back of the #8.

Early race contact between the top two LMP2 contenders forced the G-Drive entry to the pits for three laps with rear bodywork damage.

Near nightfall the #8 Toyota, leading by roughly 18 sec, made a 30 min pit stop to replace the alternator. A second stop put it last in the running field when it returned to the track.

Mike Conway led the race by 4.3 sec in the #7 Toyota at the 2 hr 30 min mark, with Timo Bernhard (#20 Porsche) having pitted from the lead and fallen to third behind his #14 teammate, Marc Lieb. Andre Lotterer piloted the first Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro (#2) in the field, running 42 sec behind Leib 2:45 into the race.

At the halfway point the #51 Ferrari led GTE Pro, 27 sec ahead of  the #71. The #91 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR (Jorg Bergmeister, Richard Lietz) ran third. The Ferrari’s ability to 5 laps further between each pit stop helped move them to the front. The #95 Aston Martin continued to lead GTE Am, with the #81 AF Corse Ferrari in second.

The #47 KCMG Oreca 03-Nissan with Richard Bradley driving took the LMP2 lead from Mediani and the #27 SMP entry right before the halfway mark. The #7 Toyota maintained a 20-sec overall race lead on the #20 Porsche. The #2 Audi remained in third.

With 2:20 left the #14 Porsche (Lieb) had moved up to second and closed the Toyota’s (Stephane Sarrazin) lead to 17.153 sec. The #20 Porsche (Mark Webber) ran third. The #47 (Matthew Howson) led LMP2 by more than 1 min over the #27 (Sergey Zlobin).

GTE Pro had the Ferraris still out front, the #51 30 sec ahead of the #71 with the #97 Aston (Turner) another 18 sec back. Poulsen retained the GTE Am lead in the #94 Aston.

Jani took over the #14 Porsche and set the race’s fastest lap at 1:46.5 with 2 hr 6 min to go. The #7 Toyota continued to lead. Contact between the #90 8 Star Motorsports Ferrari and the #98 Aston (Pedro Lamy) put debris on the track but did not bring out a caution. Turner meanwhile had closed the gap on the P2 Ferrari to 4 sec.

The #7 Toyota held on for the win, Wurz crossing the finish line 50.460 sec ahead of Jani in the #14 Porsche. The #20 Porsche finished third, 7 sec behind its sister car, with Mark Webber driving. The #2 Audi finished fourth, one lap off the pace.

Sarrazin’s win came just a week after taking top spot in a European Rally Championship event. The victory also clinched #8 drivers’ Buemi and Davidson’s championship by mathematically eliminating any other contenders with just one race to go (Sao Paulo, Nov. 30).

KCMG took the LMP2 win, three laps ahead of the #37 SMP piloted by Kirill Ladygin. The #35 OAK Racing Morgan-Judd finished third, 49.848 sec behind the SMP. "Fantastic day here for the OAK Racing team,” said David Cheng, driver at the end. “Today was really, really tough. I took the beginning of the race and did a double stint, while it was quite hot out, which was quite difficult. With the heat, the tires degraded pretty fast, so I had to manage that. I came in third after my two stints, and handed over to Mark [Patterson], who then passed it to Keiko [Ihara], and they did a really good job in keeping the car where it was. I think we were fighting back and forth for fourth place at one point. At the end of the day, the whole team pulled through; we made fast pit stops, and brought the Morgan LM P2 home in a podium spot. It was cool. It was my first time to lead a team, and to end up on the podium is really fantastic."

The #98 Aston and Turner split the two Ferraris in GTE Pro, finishing just 1.879 sec behind Vilander in the #51 and 44 sec ahead of Calado in the #71. Vilander and Bruni’s victory gave them the GTE Pro drivers’ crown.

Astons sandwiched the #81 AF Corse Ferrari in GTE Am, Heinemeier-Hansson (#95) crossing the line one lap ahead of Michele Rugolo, and Paul Dalla Lana (#98) coming in another 24.812 sec back in third. Heinemeier-Hansson and Paulson took the GTE Am title with the win.

 

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