Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: FIA WEC / Adrenal Media
In the first longer race of the season, the 8 hours of Bahrain, Toyota made its way back to the top of the podium. The no. 7 car, with Conway, Lopez and Kobayashi led the no. 8 of Nakajima, Hartley and Buemi to a dominant 1-2 victory. Final step of the podium was taken by the Rebellion of Norman Nato, Gustavo Menezes and Bruno Senna. In GT Pro, the Dane Train with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen at the wheel took top honours.
Toyota back on top step of podium
The fight for pole position did not involve a Toyota this time, but went between the no. 1 Rebellion and the no. 5 Ginetta. A fight decided in favor of the Rebellion of Nato, Menezes and Senna. The Ginetta of Charlie Robertson, Ben Hanley and Jordan King started alongside from p2. The Japanese hybrid prototypes suffered heavily from the performance handicaps. These were applied as a result of their lead in the World Championship. Most notably was their top speed on the long straights at Sakhir. Even the GT's of Aston Martin and Ferrari reached higher top speeds than the Toyota's.
The Rebellion could enjoy the lead for exactly 1 turn after the race start, after which he was catapulted by the Ginetta which lost control accelerating out of turn 1. The no. 7 Toyota took over the lead, followed by 4 LMP2's led by the United Autosports Oreca with Paul Di Resta at the wheel. In the remainder of the race, no one could threaten the Toyota, as the sister car also suffered damage in the opening lap. The no. 8 finished more than a lap behind in second place.
After its spin in lap 1, the Rebellion also suffered technical issues later in the race, looking like a drive train issue. The mechanics managed to bring the car out on track again, driving to third place at the finish.
Both Ginetta's suffered a worse fate as the two both retired with mechanical issues.
Aston Martin wins in GT Pro
Porsche claimed pole by more than half a second. Both AF Corse Ferrari's were behind the #91 (Bruni & Lietz) and #92 (Christensen & Estre). The first half of the race was a fight between all manufacturers. Right before the halfway point drama struck Porsche. First the #92 came into the pits with a suspension issue. A couple of minutes later, the #91 suffered a puncture. Both cars lost more than a lap. After four hours, they were two laps behind the leaders.
The second half of the race was a battle between Aston Martin and Ferrari. The #95 drove to the finish unthreatened in the final minutes as Miguel Molina in the #71 was handed a drive through penalty for wheel spinning in the pit lane. Third was the #97 Aston with Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn, as the #51 had to give back third place after overtaking the Aston while exceeding track limits.
United Autosports take maiden LMP2 victory
An amazing race for the British United Autosports team, scoring both Pole and the race win. Paul Di Resta was even in second place overall right after the race start. He, Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson drove a trouble-free race to the end. After a small setback at the start, the JOTA Oreca of Roberto Gonzalez, Antonio Felix da Costa and Anthony Davidson was never far behind. Unfortunately, they didn't manage to really challenge for the lead. Will Stevens, Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry in the Jackie Chan DC Oreca took third.
Project 1 racing wins GT Am.
Another dominant win in GT Am. After scoring pole, Ben Keating, endurance veteran Jeroen Bleekemolen and Porsche specialist Larry Ten Voorde brought home the victory. Bronze driver Keating, in only his fourth race in a Porsche, drove the car for almost the first three hours. In the remainder, Bleekemolen and ten Voorde consolidated the lead. Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and Darren Turner took second in the Aston Martin. Andrew Watson, Ben Barker and Michael Wainwright took third in the Gulf Racing UK Porsche.
Next race is at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Round 5, the Lone Star Le Mans, takes place Februari 23rd.