Toyota lockout front row at the World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain.[Not a valid template]
So you may be wondering how crankandpiston.com can bring you on the ground coverage from the Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup Middle East opening round in Bahrain. Yep, we’ve gone and wangled ourselves another weekend pass from a beloved manufacturer (in this instance Porsche and sister company Audi). Oh, and did we mention that this included a media pass to the World Endurance Championship season finale at the Bahrain International Circuit. Expect updates throughout the weekend, starting with final qualifying for tomorrow’s WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain.
Despite Audi sealing with time to spare both the Manufacturers’ Championship and the Drivers’ Championship (courtesy of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval), arch-rivals Toyota clearly had no intention of letting the Bavarian jungen und mädchen runaway with the season finale. Despite a mammoth scrap with Audi throughout the 25-minute LMP qualifying session, Toyota – who as of yet have just a solitary win in the WEC in 2013 – stole a march in the closing stages to secure a front row lockout, the #7 TS030 of Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima narrowly edging #8 teammates Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin by just three-tenths of a second, averaging 1m 42.449s compared with the latter’s 1m 42.781s.
Outgoing series champions André Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler pipped the #2 McNish/Kristensen/Duval R18 Ultra to secure third on the grid, the Audi pair averaging a qualifying run some three seconds faster than the #12 Rebellion Racing Lola of Andrea Belicchi, Mathias Beche and Nicolas Prost, the remaining LMP1 entry in the field.
Luis Perez Companc, Nicolas Minassian and Pierre Kaffer meanwhile secure sixth overall on the grid and LMP2 pole position in the #49 Pecom Racing Oreca 03 ahead of Roman Rusinov, John Martin and Mike Conway in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca. The LMP2 championship battling OAK Racing entries meanwhile could muster only third and sixth in-class (eighth and 12th overall), Alex Brundle, David Heinemeier Hansson and Olivier Pla in the #24 Morgan upstaging standings leaders Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez.
Aston Martin Racing and Porsche meanwhile share the GT category honours, with Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz taking GT Pro pole position in the #92 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR, and Christoffer Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and newly crowned Porsche Mobil1 Supercup champion Nicki Thiim taking GT Am top spot in the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8.
Stay put. More action to come from the crankandpiston team on the ground at the World Endurance Championship season finale. Oh, and don’t forget your spotter guide.