The #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing leads overall at the 6 Hours of Bahrain after a thrilling two hours of racing and four more remaining.
After qualifying saw drivers push to the limit around the Bahrain International Circuit, the attention turned to the first leg of the double-header.
Due to the high ambient and track temperatures, the focus was on the impact on tyre degradation as drivers were looking to drive more gentle for the long term.
However, the heavy braking zones proved a challenge for many drivers
As lights went out at the start, the #8 pole-sitter of Sebastien Buemi fought briefly with the sister Toyota at Turn 1, but maintained their lead.
In LMP2, things were a different story as that field bunched up and the order shuffled.
Sean Gelael struggled at the start from the class pole and lost four positions on the opening laps.
The #22 of Phil Hanson dropped one place as the #29 of Guido Van Der Garde gained five positions in the #29 Racing Team Nederland to get into the lead.
In GTE-Am, the racing intensified from the get-go as Tomonobu Fujii made his charge up the field in his #777 D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage.
Up ahead, two other Aston Martins were battling for third place as Paul Dalla Lana was holding off Ben Keating’s TF Sport.
The factory Ferraris were struggling to match the pace of the Porsches on the opening laps, thus fell back slightly.
It was an intense wheel-to-wheel fight for the GTE-Am lead between the #60 and the #54 who were fighting until the pole-sitter pitted into the garage.
This gave the chance for the charging #777 to catch the #54 for that lead, which was eventually claimed it around 40 minutes in. Fujii made up nine places since the start.
Contact between the #98 and #28 ended poorly for the LMP2 of Galeal who spun around and dropped down to 10th in-class.
At the front, Toyota continued their lead into the depths of the second hour and were issuing team orders switching the pair around.
However, this did not stop them fighting out earlier in the race.
Hanson was struggling on a double-stint after dropping from third to fifth as he was passed by the #34 of Alex Brundle, who was on fresh tyres, but also from the #31 of Ferdinand Habsburg (who were on the same double-stint tyre strategy).
Eventually, the #34 caught the lead at the 1 hour and 30 minute point, passing the #29 with ease before the LMP2 pit stops began.
In the #22, Filipe Albuquerque asserted his pace to take their Oreca 07 into P3 in the category.
GTE-Am ignited another lead battle between the #83 of Alessio Rovera who won the last round at Le Mans.
He was fending off Augusto Farfus (#98) as the Ferrari and Aston Martin were kept together as they tackled the heavy braking zones.
Just before the third hour, a brief Full-Course-Yellow was deployed after debris settled at Turn 1. It emerged to be from the #777’s engine cover.
The #7 Toyota GAZOO Racing Hypercar was in the lead over the sister car and the Alpine after two hours.
In LMP2, Team WRT lead over United Autosports in the hands of Robin Frijns.
Meanwhile in GTE-Pro, the Porsche duo continued to lead comfortably over Ferrari who struggled to close the gap.
AF Corse led in GTE-Am in the hands of François Perrodo edging the #98.
|1||#7 Toyota GAZOO Racing [HYPERCAR]|
|2||#8 Toyota GAZOO Racing [HYPERCAR]|
|3||#36 Alpine Elf Matmut [HYPERCAR]|
|4||#31 Team WRT [LMP2]|
#29 Racing Team Nederland (Pro/Am) [LMP2]
|6||#22 United Autosports [LMP2]|
#34 Inter Europol Competition (Pro/Am) [LMP2]
|8||#28 JOTA [LMP2]|
|9||#38 JOTA [LMP2]|
|10||#70 Realteam Racing (Pro/Am) [LMP2]|
|11||#1 Richard Mille Racing [LMP2]|
|12||#20 High Class Racing (Pro/Am) [LMP2]|
|13||#21 DragonSpeed USA (Pro/Am) [LMP2]|
|14||#44 ARC Bratislava (Pro/Am) [LMP2]|
|15||#92 Porsche GT Team [GTE-PRO]|
|16||#91 Porsche GT Team [GTE-PRO]|
|17||#52 AF Corse [GTE-PRO]|
|18||#51 AF Corse [GTE-PRO]|
|19||#83 AF Corse [GTE-AM]|
|20||#98 Aston Martin Racing [GTE-AM]|
|21||#86 GR Racing [GTE-AM]|
|22||#33 TF Sport [GTE-AM]|
|23||#777 D’station Racing [GTE-AM]|
|24||#54 AF Corse [GTE-AM]|
|25||#85 Iron Lynx [GTE-AM]|
|26||#56 Team Project 1 [GTE-AM]|
|27||#77 Dempsey-Proton Racing [GTE-AM]|
|28||#47 Cetilar Racing [GTE-AM]|
|29||#57 Kessel Racing [GTE-AM]|
|30||#60 Iron Lynx [GTE-AM]|
|31||#88 Dempsey-Proton Racing [GTE-AM]|