SENSATIONAL AND DRAMATIC FIRST HALF TO FIA WEC FINALE
An enthralling first half of the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain saw incredible endurance racing action as the destiny of the 2015 FIA World Ednurance Drivers’ Championship swung between the No.17 Porsche and No.7 Audi crews.
As the clock ticked to three hours, the race was under a brief Full Course Yellow period to remove debris from the track and, after Audi pitted under the FCY, the No.7 Audi driven by Benoit Treluyer had a tiny 0.3s lead over the Marc Lieb driven Porsche 919 Hybrid.
The race started with pole setter Timo Bernhard able to stretch out a small lead but, behind, Lucas Di Grassi, who had already made his way around Marcel Fassler in the No.7 Audi, instantly pressurised second placed Romain Dumas.
The Brazilian made short work of the Porsche and set about chasing Bernhard who looked to be in control of the race after 30 minutes of racing. Soon though there was drama as the champion elect No.17 Porsche pitted and was wheeled back into the pit box. An engine actuator problem had to be fixed and Bernhard was forced to sit impatiently in the cockpit.
Five laps were lost in the pit stop and Bernhard began a recovery drive, before team mate Brendon Hartley took over and continued to cut through the field. He knew that, the way things then stood, the No.17 Porsche would have to finish at least fourth should the No.7 Audi be able to win today.
At the front, Audi was executing a super aggressive opening strategy to the race with Di Grassi leading Fassler, who was frustrated by a relative lack of pace in the opening stint, before the first pit stops began.
In the second hour of the race Di Grassi was hunted by Lotterer who had taken over the cockpit of the No.7 Audi at the first stop. The German ace found a way through after 90-minutes and was able to build a small gap, but the lead swung back in the No.8 Audi’s favour after the second scheduled stops when they exited the pits quicker than the No.7 car.
Through the third hour Loic Duval was able to maintain the lead and a gap between 8-12 seconds to Lotterer, while behind them Marc Lieb was unable to a make significant impression on the leading duo.
The recovering No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid, in the hands of a rapid Hartley, was able to make progress, clearing all of the LMP2 and LMP1 Privateer cars to run sixth overall but still four laps from the leaders. The big question was whether or not he could clear the two Toyota TS 040 Hybrid cars to gain the necessary points to take the title?
More drama came after 2hrs 45mins of racing when the No.8 Audi, driven by Duval, appeared to suffer a broken brake disc and was forced to pit. The resulting damage to the left front corner of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro ensured a long pit stop which saw the car slip out of contention and elevated the No.17 Porsche to fifth place.
Toyota Racing placed third and fourth at the halfway mark after the problems that befell the No.8 Audi and the No.17 Porsche. With the No.2 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid driven by Alex Wurz sitting in the final podium position, there was a good chance that the dream of the Austrian seeing out his final race before retirement on the rostrum could come true.
The LMP1 Privateer class saw Rebellion Racing in control of proceedings with the No.12 Rebellion Racing R-One-AER heading the sister No.13 R-One-AER. The ByKolles CLM P1/01-AER was delayed slightly at a pit stop and ran third in class.
KCMG dominate early running in LMP2
Nick Tandy drove a stellar opening stint in the KCMG ORECA 05, taking the lead on the first lap after decisive moves on first Sam Bird in the No.26 G-Drive Ligier and then pole sitter Tom Dillmann in the Signatech Alpine.
Tandy stretched out a useful lead before handing over to Matt Howson who solidified and extended the lead once he had dispatched Roman Rusinov at turn one after the first round of pit stops.
Once Howson’s double stint was completed, Richard Bradley took over and hunted down new class leaders Signatech Alpine. Nelson Panciatici drove a flawless stint and emerged ahead after the third scheduled stops. This didn’t last long however as Bradley soon caught and overtook the Frenchman after 2hrs 30mins of racing.
Bradley soon built a gap, which was just as well, because behind him there soon began an entertaining battle for second place between Panciatici and the No 26 and No.28 G-Drive Racing entered Ligiers driven by Julien Canal and Gustavo Yacaman respectively. Yacaman was soon passed both and able to pull a gap to make second position his own as the clock ticked to three hours of racing.
With KCMG doing all they needed to, in order to put pressure on the No.26 G-Drive car for the LMP2 titles, the Russian team knew they just had to finish fifth to be crowned champions in 2015.
- 17:59:20 Audi #8 rejoins
- 17:58:43 Treluyer into Audi #7
- 17:57:46 Full Course Yellow for clearance of debris
- 17:56:52 Whole front left corner being changed on Audi #8
- 17:50:53 Audi #8 has driveshaft change
- 17:50:25 Toyota's #2 and #1 into 3rd and 4th place
- 17:49:17 Ligier #31 has rear suspension failure
- 17:47:09 Jarvis into Audi #8 but still in garage
- 17:45:15 Audi #8 into garage
- 17:44:41 Audi #8 into pits
- 17:43:23 Audi #7 leads from Audi #8
- 17:42:46 Porsche #18 drops to 3rd after pit stop
- 17:40:12 Ligier #26 takes 3rd in P2
- 17:39:37 Toyota #1 has nose change after incident with Alpine #36
- 17:38:53 Ligier #28 passes #36 Alpine for 2nd in P2
- 17:36:45 Spin for #30 Ligier
- 17:34:44 Porsche #88 takes 2nd in GTE Am from Porsche #77
- 17:30:01 Porsche #17 stops - Hartley stays in
- 17:29:21 P2 leader Alpine #36 spins after contact with Toyota #1 - Oreca #47 retakes lead
- 17:27:16 Alpine #36 now leads P2 from Oreca #47
- 17:26:18 Audi #7 stops- Lotterer stays in - Porsche #18 takes lead
- 17:25:05 Porsche #77 takes 2nd in GTE Am - Porsche #88 in 3rd
- 17:19:31 Audi #8 rejoins in 3rd - Duval still in car
- 17:16:52 Audi #8 into pits - Audi #7 takes lead
- 17:13:04 Corvette #50 retakes lead in GTE Am from Ferrari #83 and Porsche #77
- 17:11:54 Porsche #92 retakes lead in GTE Pro - Ferrari's #51 and #71 in 2nd and 3rd
- 17:10:34 Gibson #42 takes 3rd in P2 after early stop for Ligier #26
- 17:06:11 Alpine #36 takes 2nd in P2 from Liger #26
- 17:05:19 In P1 Privateer class Rebellion's #12 & #13 lead CLM #4
- 17:04:22 In GTE Am Aston #98 leads from Ferrari #83 and Corvette #50
- 17:03:34 In GTE Pro Aston #95 leads from #92 Porsche & #51 Ferrari
- 17:02:20 In P2 Oreca #47 leads from Ligier #26 and #36 Alpine
- 17:01:33 After 2 hours Audi's #7 & #8 lead from Porsche #18
- 17:00:35 Aston #98 takes lead in GTE Am - Porsche #88 now second
- 16:56:43 Porsche #18 reports brake temperature problem
- 16:52:33 Track limit caution for Ferrari #51
- 16:47:07 Leader Porsche #18 into pits - Lieb gets in - Duval leads in Audi #8
- 16:41:17 Ferrari #83 takes lead in GTE Am
- 16:40:30 Hartley in Porsche #17 up to 8th place
- 16:36:53 Leading Audi #7 stops - rejoins in 2nd - Porsche #18 leads
- 16:35:39 1:42.440 fastest lap for Duval in Audi #8
- 16:34:41 Porsche #17 stops - Hartley gets in
- 16:33:03 Audi #8 into pits - Duval gets in
- 16:28:51 Audi #7 takes lead
- 16:26:49 Porsche #17 passes Morgan #43 for 14th place
- 16:26:49 Porsche #17 passes Morgan #43 for 14th place
- 16:21:34 Porsche #17 now back up to 15th place
- 16:05:39 Rebellion #12 leads team mate #13 and CLM #4 in privateer LMP1
- 16:04:13 In GTE Am #50 Corvette leads #83 Ferrari and Porsche #77
- 16:03:09 In GTE Pro Porsche #92 leads from Ferrari's #51 and #71
- 16:02:18 In P2 Oreca #47 leads from #26 Ligier and #36 Alpine
- 16:01:13 After 1 hour Audi's #7 and #8 lead from Porsche #18
- 15:59:24 Oreca #47 retakes lead in P2 from #26 Ligier
- 15:56:53 BR01 #44 has reportedly got door open
- 15:55:30 1:42.818 fastest lap for Lotterer #7
- 15:54:37 Leader Porsche #18 stops - Dumas stays in and drops to 3rd
- 15:52:31 Aston #95 takes 2nd place in GTE Pro
- 15:51:43 Davidson into Toyota #1 and Sarrazin into Toyota #2
- 15:50:36 Ligier #26 Ligier leads P2 from #47 Oreca and #36 Alpine after first round of stops
- 15:49:16 Aston #98 takes 3rd in GTE Am
- 15:47:49 1:42.832 fastest lap by di Grassi in Audi #8
- 15:46:52 Loiterer now in Audi #7
- 15:45:42 Howson now in leading P2 #47 Oreca
- 15:43:48 Porsche #18 now leads
- 15:43:13 Leading Audi #8 into pits
- 15:39:32 Porsche #17 rejoins 4 laps down after losing nearly 9 minutes
- 15:35:18 Porsche #17 has throttle linkage problem
- 15:34:45 Ferrari #71 has contact with #44 BR01
- 15:30:57 Porsche #17 into pits - di Grassi in Audi #8 takes lead
- 15:30:07 Porsche #17 running slowly
- 15:28:48 Rebellion #12 leads team mate #13 and CLM #4 in privateer LMP1 class
- 15:23:59 Debris now removed from turn 3 by marshal
- 15:19:08 Porsche#92 takes lead in GTE Pro from Ferrari #51
- 15:15:15 Aston #97 now 3rd in GTE Am
- 15:14:28 Aston #99 rejoins 2 laps down after taking penalty
- 15:12:47 1:42.949 fastest lap for Audi #8
- 15:12:10 Corvette #50 reported to be losing fluid
- 15:11:16 Di Grassi in #8 Audi takes 2nd place from Porsche #18
- 15:10:11 Aston #99 stops to take 3 minute stop and hold
- 15:09:27 In GTE Am Corvette #50 leads from Porsche #77 and Ferrari #83
- 15:06:24 In GTE Pro Ferrari #51 leads from Porsche #92 and #99 Aston
- 15:04:40 ORECA #47 leads P2 from Ligier's #26 and #28
- 15:03:22 Porsche #17 leads Porsche #18 and Audi #7 at end of first lap
- 15:01:31 Porsche #17 leads on first lap
- 15:00:31 Green Flag
- 15:00:18 Sunset will be 16.46 local time (13.46 GMT)
- 14:55:22 Fassler and di Grassi will start Audi's #7 & #8
- 14:54:25 2 formation laps start
- 14:54:08 Buemi will start in outgoing WEC champions Toyota #1
- 14:51:59 Bernhard and Dumas will start Porsches #17 & #18
- 14:47:47 Alex Wurz will start Toyota #2 for his last WEC race
- 14:44:39 Ait temp 24.6C Track temp 33.3C
- 14:42:21 Aston #99 will have to serve a 3 minute stop and hold penalty for using 5 sets of tyres during free practice