For the third time in its debut season a Porsche 919 Hybrid took pole position in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). As also happened two weeks ago in Shanghai, in Bahrain Neel Jani set the fastest lap time ever by a Le Mans Prototype on the respective circuit. Neel and Romain Dumas shared qualifying duties at the wheel of the number 14 919 Hybrid in Bahrain, where the seventh and penultimate round of the world championship is being held on Saturday. In the WEC the average of the two fastest laps of two drivers counts for the grid position. Neel’s best lap was 1:41.897 minutes, the average of all four laps was 1:43.145 minutes.
Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley qualified third in the number 20 sister car. The average time of their four laps was 1:44.191 minutes on the 5.412 kilometre long Bahrain International Circuit.
On Friday morning car number 14 was also at the top of the time sheets, just the same as in free practice on Thursday. Neel’s best time on fresh tyres in FP3 was 1:43.571 minutes, despite traffic. Traffic was also an issue for car number 20 in the morning with Timo Bernhard lapping the circuit in 1:44.821 minutes, which was third fastest. Together with the laps done by Romain and Brendon Hartley, the Porsche Team achieved a good mileage by doing 59 laps in total during the 60-minute free practice session, thanks to totally smooth running race cars.
Quotes after qualifying:
Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Board, Research and Development, Porsche AG: “P1 and P3 is a great qualifying result and another improvement. This time we managed to increase the gap between us and the second fastest car. We have made another step forward here and now we have to get everything right in the race.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “It is our third pole position, and it is a great feeling – we would love to get used to it. Our performance here over all three free practice sessions, and including qualifying, has been the strongest so far. Now our next target is to close the gap to the front runners over the six-hour race distance.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “It is a very good result for our team. We were able to build on what looked promising in free practice. We certainly benefitted from having been testing here early this year. The number 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid had a perfect qualifying, and it was a great performance from Neel Jani and Romain Dumas. For car number 20 it wasn’t quite as smooth, but both drivers were fighting back strongly and in the end the average lap time was still good enough for P3. Tomorrow the big question mark is how we can use the performance of the tyres on the long run.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 20:
Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand): “It is fantastic for the team and car number 14. For car number 20 it wasn’t the smoothest qualifying with Timo having a problem on his first lap, and me making a mistake on my first lap. I had a massive front locking in turn one. There was no time left to go back to the pits and I did my best. I’m very happy it was all good enough for P3.“
Timo Bernhard (33, Germany): “On my first lap in turn one the pit lane speed limiter was suddenly activated, which was my mistake. My second lap then was really good but on the third one the brake balance wasn’t right at one point, with too much in the rear. It wasn’t an easy qualifying today.”