WEC Bahrain: #8 Toyota claims pole for title decider, Alpine fifth

Toyota driver Brendon Hartley claimed pole position for the Bahrain World Endurance Championship finale by nearly a second.

The New Zealander took his second pole of the year after the Le Mans 24 Hours in June with a 1m46.800s lap aboard the #8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID to knock Peugeot’s Paul di Resta off the top spot in qualifying by eight tenths.

Di Resta posted a 1m47.610s aboard the #93 Peugeot 9X8 to just shade Mike Conway’s 1m47.738s in the #7 Toyota before Hartley set his time.

The point for pole won by the #8 Toyota moves Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa clear of the Alpine-Gibson A480 crew at the head of the championship going into Saturday’s Bahrain 8 Hours.

The Toyota drivers and the Alpine trio of Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxivierre and Andre Negrao were tied on 121 points prior to qualifying.

Hartley said: “I found the right balance in sector 1 and I think I really got the peak of the tyres.

“I must have got them right in the window on the out lap.

"The track gripped up more than expected and I'm definitely happy with my lap."

Gustavo Menezes took fourth position in the second of the Peugeots with a 1m48.334s, which was seven tenths down on team-mate di Resta’s time.

Vaxiviere brought up the rear of the Hypercar class in the grandfathered LMP1 Alpine with a 1m48.343s despite making a second run on a fresh set of tyres.

#36 Alpine Elf Team Alpine A480 - Gibson LMP1: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

#36 Alpine Elf Team Alpine A480 - Gibson LMP1: André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Norman Nato grabbed pole in LMP2 right at the end of the 10-minute prototype qualifying session for the Realteam by WRT squad.

The Frenchman improved to a 1m50.330s on a second set of tyres aboard his ORECA-Gibson 07 to knock Will Stevens off the pole in the championship-leading Jota ORECA.

Stevens’ 1m50.467s set on his first run stood as the second best time, which was just three hundredths up on Filipe Albuquerque’s 1m50.497s in the #22 United Autosports ORECA.

The Portuguese improved on this second run to a 1m50.445s to go quicker than Stevens, but lost the time to a track limits infraction.

Porsche driver Gianmaria Bruni took the last ever pole position in GTE Pro. The Italian jumped to the head of class times in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR with a 1m56.143s set on his second flying lap.

That gave him a margin of just under three tenths over Antonio Fuoco, whose 1m56.419s sealed second position for the #52 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.

Michael Christensen took third in the #92 Porsche has he sought to take the point for pole position.

The extra point would have closed the gap on championship leaders James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi to just 10 points and meant Christensen and Estre could seal the title with class victory no matter where their Ferrari rivals finished.

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - 19 GTE-PRO: Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR - 19 GTE-PRO: Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Christensen was initially fastest with a 1m56.439s before just losing out to Fuoco. He pitted for a fresh set of tyres and improved to a 1m56.306s to reclaim second, before the time was deleted for a track limits violation.

Pier Guidi took fourth on 1m56.687s after a spin, while the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R in Nick Tandy’s hands brought up the rear of the five-car class.

Pole position in GTE Am went to Sarah Bovy in the Iron Dames Ferrari. Her 1m59.186s shaded Ben Keating in the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE by half a second.

The Bahrain 8 Hours begins at 14:00 local time on Saturday.

WEC Bahrain Qualifying Results

Cla # Drivers Car Class Avg Time Gap
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Japan Ryo Hirakawa
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'46.800  
2 93 United Kingdom Paul di Resta
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
France Jean-Eric Vergne
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR 1'47.610 0.810
3 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'47.738 0.938
4 94 France Loic Duval
United States Gustavo Menezes
Switzerland Nico Müller
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR 1'48.334 1.534
5 36 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
Alpine A480 HYPERCAR 1'48.343 1.543
6 41 Portugal Rui Andrade
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.330 3.530
7 38 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.467 3.667
8 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
United States Will Owen
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.497 3.697
9 83 France François Perrodo
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Italy Alessio Rovera
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.546 3.746
10 44 Slovakia Miro Konopka
Switzerland Mathias Beche
United Kingdom Richard Bradley
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.619 3.819
11 23 United Kingdom Alex Lynn
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
United States Josh Pierson
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.661 3.861
12 10 Netherlands Renger van der Zande
Ireland Ryan Cullen
France Sébastien Bourdais
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.766 3.966
13 31 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Netherlands Robin Frijns
Germany René Rast
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.802 4.002
14 1 France Lilou Wadoux
France Paul-Loup Chatin
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.857 4.057
15 9 Poland Robert Kubica
Switzerland Louis Deletraz
Italy Lorenzo Colombo
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.110 4.310
16 45 United States Thomas Steven
Australia James Allen
Austria Rene Binder
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.479 4.679
17 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Mexico Esteban Gutierrez
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.661 4.861
18 35 France Jean Baptiste Lahaye
France Matthieu Lahaye
France François Heriau
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.821 5.021
19 28 Denmark Oliver Rasmussen
United Arab Emirates Ed Jones
South Africa Jonathan Aberdein
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'59.503 12.703
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