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Jani, Porsche lead again in second Bahrain WEC practice

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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.

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 

 

For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.