WEC - Championship Leaders Head the First Practice Session in Bahrain 

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The season-closing 8 Hours of Bahrain, round 8 of FIA WEC, got underway this evening with the first free practice session. The 90-minute session was held under the floodlights, with track temperatures hovering around 30 degrees.

Toyota Gazoo Racing tops FP1 with Sébastien Buemi setting a time of 1:43.457 in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID he shares with Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima. Buemi was 0.492s quicker than sister Toyota TS050 HYBRID driven by its trio of drivers Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez. The two Toyota entries are fighting for the 2020 LMP drivers’ title, with only seven points separating both crews.

In LMGTE Pro Aston Martin Racing led the way, with Richard Westbrook setting a lap of 1:56.560 in the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage AMR he shares with Maxime Martin.  Westbrook’s lap was 0.617s ahead of the No.91 Porsche 911 RSR – 19 driven by Richard Lietz and Gimmi Bruni. Third overall was the second Porsche GT Team entry, with 2018/19 World Champion Michael Christensen setting a time of 1:57.218 early in the session.  The category leading No. 95 Aston Martin car fourth fastest with the two AF Corse Ferrari 488s fifth and sixth.

Racing Team Nederland topped the LMP2 timesheets as Guido Van Der Garde sets the pace early in the session with 1:47.955. Second in class was André Negrão in the Signatech Alpine Elf entry – the Alpine A470 Gibson entry just 0.171s adrift of the pace-setting No. 29 car. JOTA, who are vying for the runners-up spot in the LMP2 teams’ championship this weekend, were third quickest with Antonio Felix Da Costa clocking 1:48.303.

The No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage proved the car to beat in LMGTE Am as Ross Gunn set the fastest time of 1:57.666.  Second fastest in LMGTE Am was Gulf Racing’s Ben Barker in the Porsche 911 RSR, the British driver just 0.022s adrift of the fastest Am time.  Team Project 1’s Jeroen Bleekemolen rounded out the top three with a time of 1:57.688 in the No. 57 Porsche 

The second Free Practice session is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 09h00 local / 07h00 CET.