Neel Jani and the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid crew continued to set the pace in practice for the final FIA World Endurance Championship round of the season in Bahrain on Thursday night.
Alongside teammates Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas, Jani heads into the final race of the year needing just a sixth-place finish to secure a maiden drivers’ championship.
Jani set the fastest lap in FP1 earlier in the day before doubling up in second practice, turning in a quickest lap of 1:39.817 to head up a Porsche one-two.
“During the first session I had a small issue with the door, but other than that everything went well. This time here the track is quite clean, and that’s why lap times were immediately pretty good,” Jani said.
“We did the qualifying simulation in the second session, because the fight for pole tomorrow will also be after sunset. I had an OK lap, but there certainly is room for improvement.
“Afterwards we built the car back up to race spec. We want to keep a high performance level over the race distance.”
Jani’s lap was 0.455 seconds quicker than that of no. 1 Porsche driver Brendon Hartley in second place as Audi trailed in third place, a further one-tenth of a second behind.
Toyota’s championship-chasing no. 6 crew slotted into fourth place in the TS050, getting a lap in early before focusing on its race simulations.
In LMP2, the returning Rene Rast immediately impressed behind the wheel of the no. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca Nissan by setting the fastest time in class, finishing three-tenths of a second faster than the championship-winning no. 36 Signatech Alpine entry. Manor’s no. 44 Oreca Nissan ended the day third-fastest.
Aston Martin Racing continued its dominance at the top of GTE Pro by romping to another one-two finish, this time reversing the positions from FP1. Championship leaders Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen edged out Jonny Adam and Darren Turner by just 0.007 seconds – an apt time delta for the WEC’s Bond brand – with Ford finishing a further 1.9 seconds adrift in P3.
Aston Martin also managed to take top spot in GTE Am with the no. 98 Vantage V8 shared by Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda finishing over a second clear of the field. The champions elect no. 83 AF Corse crew finished third-fastest, knowing that pole on Friday will be enough to wrap up the championship a day early.