Toyota Gazoo Racing’s pair of TS050 HYBRIDs topped the timing screens in Free Practice 1 at the Bahrain International Circuit, the best time coming from Mike Conway in the No. 7 TS050 HYBRID, who set a 1m42.313s.
Behind, Sebastien Buemi made it a 1-2 for the Japanese marque in the No.8 TS050 HYBRID, the Frenchman lapping the Sakhir circuit in 1m42.512s.
The best of the Porsche 919s finished up third, the No.1 just 0.334s off the top time after Neel Jani’s best tour, with the No.2 fourth, half a second adrift with a 1m42.813s set by newly-crowned LMP1 world champion Timo Bernhard.
While there were no major incidents, the session was delayed heavily, finishing under darkness despite starting on time at 15:00. The red flag stoppage occurred midway through the running for the recovery of the No.67 Chip Ganassi Ford GT, which stopped out on circuit at Turn 6 with an oil leak. After the on-site marshals cleared the spillage, the action resumed and the session was extended, eventually finishing at 17:00 local.
In LMP2, the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA ended up with the fastest time, Nelson Piquet Jnr reeling off a 1m48.707s. His time was a tenth faster than series returnee Loic Duval in the G-Drive 07 Gibson, the Frenchman participating in his first competitive WEC session since last year’s trip to Bahrain and setting a 1m48.729s. The No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA rounded out the top three with a 1m49.083s.
Just outside the top three was the first of the three class title challengers – the Signatech Alpine A470 – which slotted in fourth, a fraction faster than the No. 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA in fifth.
In GTE Pro, three of the four marques were represented in the top three, with the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari top of the times with a 1m58.579s courtesy of Italian Alessandro Pier Guidi, ahead of the No. 97 Aston and No.67 Ford which ended up 0.3s and 0.9s back from the lead 488, respectively. The fastest of the Porsches – the No. 91 – ended up fifth, behind the second of the Ford GTs; Richard Lietz was the fastest man, with a 1m59.510s.
The Dempsey Proton Porsche headlined the GTE Am field in the session, Matteo Cairoli reeling off a 2m00.428s tour of the circuit. Behind, the championship-leading No.98 Aston Martin Vantage and Gulf Racing UK Porsche ended up second and third.
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UP NEXT: Free Practice 2, set to begin at 7:30pm local time.