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Manor adds Jonathan Hirschi to 2017 WEC line-up

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CEFC Manor TRS Racing has confirmed that Swiss driver Jonathan Hirschi will join its line-up for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Hirschi, 31, has competed in numerous sportscar and rally events in recent years, making four appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 2010 and 2013.

Hirschi will return to the Circuit de la Sarthe in June as part of the newly-rebranded Manor team’s line-up, as confirmed on Thursday.

“We are very happy that Jonathan is joining the team for WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Manor president and sporting director Graeme Lowdon said.

“He has a lot of experience in endurance racing including multiple visits to Le Mans so it is great to add him to our driver line up.

“We have had a busy few weeks preparing for the new season but we are looking forward to the year ahead, it seems like a long time since our last race so we really can’t wait to get going again.”

Hirschi added: “I’m really happy to join CEFC Manor TRS Racing for WEC this season. After three seasons in ELMS I am really happy to be taking part in WEC and to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“A big thank you to Graeme Lowdon and John Booth to trust in me this season and I will do my best to achieve my goals.

“I am impatient to drive the new LMP2 with new rules and to drive an ORECA chassis again. I can’t wait for the Prologue at Monza.”

Hirschi is the fourth driver to be confirmed in a Manor seat for 2017, joining up with Simon Trummer, Tor Graves and Roberto Gonzalez.

The new FIA WEC season begins on April 16 at Silverstone.

Toyota victorious in Bahrain on Porsche’s LMP1 swansong

Toyota Motorsport GmbH
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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Toyota denied Porsche a swansong victory in its final LMP1 appearance in the FIA World Endurance Championship by taking a commanding win in the 6 Hours of Bahrain on Saturday.

Porsche started from pole in the last competitive outing for the three-time Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid car, only to lose out to Toyota’s Sebastien Buemi within the first half an hour of the race.

Porsche lost one of its cars from contention for victory after an errant bollard got stuck underneath Timo Bernhard’s No. 2 entry, leaving Nick Tandy to lead its charge in the No. 1 car.

Tandy moved into the lead just past half distance after a bold strategy call from Porsche to triple-stint the Briton after a fuel-only stop, vaulting him ahead of Anthony Davidson in the No. 8 Toyota.

Tandy’s win hopes were soon dashed when he tangled with a GTE-Am backmarker at Turn 1, sustaining damage that forced Porsche into an unplanned pit stop that put the car a lap down.

With the No. 7 Toyota losing two laps following a clash with a GTE-Pro car earlier on, Davidson, Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima went unchallenged en route to the car’s fifth victory of the season.

Porsche rounded out the podium with its cars, with the No. 2 leading home the No. 1, leaving Toyota’s No. 7 car to settle for P4 at the checkered flag.

Vaillante Rebellion clinched the title in LMP2 after a stunning fightback led by Bruno Senna, with the Brazilian securing his maiden motorsport championship win in the process.

GTE-Pro saw AF Corse complete a hat-trick of titles in 2017, with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi wining the class’ first world championship recognized by the FIA, while Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda sewed up the GTE-Am title.