You cannot ask for more: In all eight rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship no car other than a Porsche 919 Hybrid has made it onto the front row. At each race the Porsche Team has taken pole position and the second spot on the grid. At the finale in Bahrain Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AUS) took their fifth pole position of the year. Thanks to an advantage of what is now a 13 point lead, a fourth place finish in Saturday’s six-hour race would earn them the World Championship’s drivers’ title. The sister car of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) has taken pole position three times this year and will start from P2 in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
In the WEC the average of the best laps of two drivers counts for the grid position. In Bahrain Bernhard/Hartley (car number 17) and Dumas/Lieb (car number 18) were the qualifying drivers. In cooler temperatures in the dark, Bernhard managed to set a new record for prototypes on the 5.412 kilometre long Grand Prix circuit by lapping in 1:39.670 minutes. The average lap time for the number 17 car was 1:39.736 minutes, while the average lap time for their number 18 team mates’ was 1:40.100 minutes.
In the morning, during the third free practice session, the Porsche prototypes, from the team that won the Manufacturers’ World Championship at the penultimate round, were first and second in the same order. The fastest lap times were 1:40.917 minutes and 1:42.070 minutes.
The eighth and final round will start on Saturday at 15:00 hrs local time (13:00 hrs CET). The TV channel Eurosport will broadcast the final hour and the podium ceremony live. Live feed, timing and more is available at the FIA WEC App. Live features such as on-board cameras, timing and GPS tracking are also available in the Porsche Motorsport App (free of charge).
Quotes after qualifying:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Eight race weekends and a grid front lock for the eighth time – this is amazing. Now we have to keep our head down and stay focussed until the very last race lap, because we want to win the drivers’ world championship as well. Thanks to the team, I’m looking forward to Saturday.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “This qualifying record shows we have the best operational crew, the fastest car and the best drivers of the pack. A lot of praise must also go to Michelin our tyre partner for perfect cooperation during the season. By only running a minimum of laps in qualifying, again the entire team achieved a top-result thanks to an outstanding level of concentration. Following the free practice results, we achieved what we were aiming for in qualifying. In fact, that’s a perfect beginning for the race and we will now fully focus on our preparation. We expect a long and tough fight with Audi.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 17
Timo Bernhard (34, Germany): “I’m very happy for the entire team. Brendon and myself did well today, and the car was really good. We have scored the single point for pole position, and this was today’s target. Nevertheless: What counts is tomorrow. It will definitely be a very exciting race. Always a lot can happen on track. But we know we’ve got the car, we’ve got the speed and we’ve got the team behind us. This is a very nice feeling.”
Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand): “It was very good. It is great to be on pole again, and this point could be crucial for tomorrow, as it gives us a bit more room to breathe. I had some rally type action on my lap with a big drift through turn 11, but I kept it together. Timo performed perfectly, it was a great team effort.”