Porsche’s championship-leading trio of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb set the pace in the opening practice session for the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain.
Dumas, Jani and Lieb arrive at the Bahrain International Circuit requiring only a sixth-place finish to clinch their maiden title, having also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in June.
Jani was the fastest driver as the field hit the track for FP1 on Thursday afternoon, with an early lap of 1:42.107 enough to give Porsche top spot in the classification.
Audi’s final weekend in the WEC started off in quietly-impressive fashion as the no. 8 and no. 7 R18s finished second and third respectively, the former lapping three-tenths off Jani’s effort.
Toyota’s title-contending no. 6 car ended the session fourth, with the no. 1 Porsche and no. 5 Toyota following in P5 and P6 to round out the LMP1-H runners.
In LMP2, class champions Signatech Alpine kicked off the weekend by setting the pace as Nicolas Lapierre put in a lap time of 1:50.906 to finish almost two-tenths clear of the no. 45 Manor, which welcomes back Roberto Merhi for the weekend.
Aston Martin Racing put its stamp on proceedings early on in GTE Pro by securing a one-two finish, with the no. 97 leading the way courtesy of Darren Turner, who is joined by Jonny Adam for the weekend.
GTE Am champions-elect AF Corse also set the pace in its respective class, knowing that pole on Saturday will to enough for the no. 83 crew to clinch the title.