Porsche’s no. 17 crew of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard took a huge step towards securing the FIA World Endurance Championship title in Bahrain by taking pole for the final race of the year in Bahrain.
The trio arrive at the Bahrain International Circuit with a 12-point lead over Audi’s no. 7 crew of Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer, needing a top-four finish to be sure of a first world title.
Hartley and Bernhard shared driving duties in qualifying for Porsche, recording a two-lap average of 1:39.736 to take pole by three-tenths of a second.
The no. 18 Porsche followed in second place, while Fassler and Lotterer finished a further 1.2 seconds back in P3 for Audi. The no. 8 Audi followed in P4 ahead of the two Toyotas in fifth and sixth.
In LMP2, Signatech Alpine picked up where it left off in Shanghai to pick up its first pole position of the season. Tom Dillmann and Paul-Loup Chatin edged out the championship-leading no. 26 G-Drive by just 0.067 seconds, leaving Sam Bird, Julien Canal and Roman Rusinov to settle for P2.
KCMG’s no. 47 crew still has an outside chance of winning the LMP2 title, but saw its best time in qualifying deleted after abuse of track limits, leaving Nick Tandy, Richard Bradley and Matthew Howson to settle for P3 with their second-best lap.
GTE Pro pole went to defending champions Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the no. 51 AF Corse entry. Their chances of retaining the title may be slim, but a combined average of 1:58.347 saw them edge out the no. 95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Christoffer Nygaard, Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim.
Championship leader Richard Lietz requires just eight points to clinch his first GT title in the WEC, but made life difficult for himself by only qualifying sixth in the no. 91 Porsche 911 RSR alongside Michael Christensen.
In GTE Am, Aston Martin Racing’s no. 98 entry of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda took their fifth pole of the season, finishing four-tenths of a second clear of the no. 50 Larbre Competition Corvertte. Class leading team SMP Racing’s no. 72 Ferrari 458 Italia qualified third, requiring six points to secure the title.