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Hartley, Bamber head up Porsche front row for Fuji WEC

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The pair of New Zealanders, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, have secured the pole position in their No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid for Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Fuji.

Bamber hadn’t yet won an FIA WEC overall pole and shared qualifying duties with Hartley, the pair posting an average lap time of 1:35.160.

Qualifying took place under wet conditions in advance of a potential wet race on Sunday.

If Bamber, Hartley and Timo Bernhard end ahead of the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, they wrap the driver’s championship.

“Due to the bad weather forecast for tomorrow it is very important to have both Porsches starting from the front row – this could be an advantage for us. We have again collected another point in the defence of both world championship titles,” Fritz Ensinger, vp of Porsche’s LMP1 program, said. “As expected, Toyota was very fast. A huge compliment to our whole team for a tremendous concerted effort. Now we are looking forward to an endurance race that will be the third last for us with the 919 Hybrid.”

Porsche also scored the GTE-Pro pole courtesy of Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR.

Other class polesitters included the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson (Nelson Piquet Jr. and David Heinemeier Hansson qualifying) in LMP2 and the No. 61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE (Weng Mok Sun and Matt Griffin qualifying) in GTE-Am.

The race starts at 10 p.m. ET Saturday night, which is 11 a.m. Sunday local time in Fuji.

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Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”