Porsche 1-2 on the grid for FIA WEC finale

Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard combined to set a scorching pace in the No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid to claim Porsche’s 11th consecutive FIA WEC pole position. The performance also netted title leaders Hartley, Bernhard and Mark Webber an additional point to stretch their lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 13pts.

Hartley and Bernhard set a two lap average of 1m39.736s, with Bernhard setting the outright quickest time of 1m39.670. The average was 0.364s faster than Lieb and Dumas. Hartley survived a lurid moment at turn 11 but maintained momentum to still set the quickest lap at that stage.

Audi Sport Team Joest will start the eighth and final FIA WEC race of the year from third and fourth on the grid tomorrow afternoon.

Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer were on qualifying duties in the No.7 Audi R18 etron quattro and finished with an average of 1m41.303s. This was 0.104s faster than Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis in the sister No.8 car.

The Toyota TS 040 HYBRIDs will start what will be their final race tomorrow before a new car is introduced in 2016 from a now customary fifth and sixth on the starting grid. The No 1 Toyota driven by Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima eclipsed the No.2 entry by three tenths of a second.

In an incredibly close LMP2 class, Signatech Alpine claimed a first pole position with its Alpine A450B-Nissan.

Tom Dillmann and Paul-Loup Chatin qualified the blue LMP2 car in an average of 1m49.993s, just 0.067s ahead of the KCMG ORECA 05 driven by Matt Howson and Nick Tandy.

It was a thrilling session as Chatin charged to make the final quick lap of his run after a slight mistake at the final turn saw him run wide on the previous lap. The quick Frenchman  had enough in the bag, however, after early work by Dillmann; it ensured Signatech followed up a debut win in Shanghai earlier this month with a first ever FIA WEC pole.

Despite the best efforts of Le Mans winner Nick Tandy in the final moments of the exciting 20-minute session, the KCMG ORECA-05 Nissan starts from second in class, while title rivals – the No.26 G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan placed third.  However a post qualifying penalty was imposed on the no47 KCMG for abuse of track limits and Nick Tandy’s best time was deleted.  This meant the no47 KCMG Oreca 05 moved back one place behind the no26 G-Drive Ligier on the grid for tomorrow’s 6 hour race.

LMGTE Qualifying: Ferrari Claim Pole for Championship Decider

Gimmi Bruni took the chequered flag to claim the third pole position of the year for himself and Toni Vilander in the no51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia, finishing the 20-minute qualifying session ahead of theno71 Ferrari of Davide Rigon and James Calado.

The session was delayed when there was a brief failure of the floodlight system one minute into qualifying earlier this evening, which was caused by a local outage at the BIC.  As the lights take several minutes to reset, they were back on 20 minutes later and the session was restarted with the full 20 minutes of qualifying on the clock.

The 1m58.347 average lap for Bruni and Vilander is a new qualifying record for the LMGTE Pro class at Bahrain, beating the previous record of 1m58.805 by nearly 0.5 seconds.  The no71 Ferrari was just 0.041s adrift of its Ferrari teammates but a post qualifying penalty for the no71 Ferrari for abusing track limits meant the deletion of the best lap time for James Calado and has resulted in the Calado and Rigon starting the race from the back of the grid.

However the extra championship point for pole position for the no51 car extends Ferrari’s lead in the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers to 5 points, with the two Team Manthey Porsche 911s qualifying in 5th and 7th.

The no95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage was third quickest, 0.3s behind the lead Ferrari, with the no99 Aston Martin in 4th just 0.118 behind their Danish teammates.

The no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy took its fifth pole position of the season with an average lap time of 2m00.522, 0.422 seconds ahead of the no50 Larbre Competition Corvette of Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda.  LMGTE Am Class leaders Alexsey Basov and Andrea Bertolini in the no72 SMP Racing Ferrari were third quickest with a 2m00.988.  The Russian team’s only rivals for the 2015 title, the no83 AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo,  posted an average lap time of 2m01.796 lap and finished the session in 4th place.

The no77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Patrick Long and Christian Ried and the no96 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Stuart Hall and Roald Goethe were 5th and 6th fastest respectively while the no88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche hit a problem and failed to complete qualifying.

The grid is now set for the final race of the 2015 season.  With all the LMGTE titles still up for grabs, the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain will be one of the most interesting encounters this season.  The race gets underway at 15h00 (local) on Saturday 21 November, with the chequered flag dropping at 21h00 and the 2015 world champions will be known.

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