First draft of FIA WEC Bahrain rookie test entry list revealed

(Photo by Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images)
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A week from Sunday, on Nov. 19, the FIA World Endurance Championship will hold its annual postseason rookie test at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain, a day after the series’ season finale.

Confirmed rookies to test so far include Thomas Laurent in LMP1 (Toyota), Maheveer Raghunathan (G-Drive Racing), Konstantin Tereshchenko (TDS Racing), and Gabriel Aubry (Signatech Alpine Matmut) in LMP2 and Ishikawa Motoaki (AF Corse) in GTE-Pro.

Plenty more TBA slots are listed among the 12 cars, with the following slots still to be determined depending on the outcome of the 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 season finale, which takes place as a support to FIA WEC at Bahrain:

  • Champion driver in LMP1 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Pietro Fittipaldi leads that series now by 10 points)
  • 2nd place driver in LMP2 second-place finishing team (Vaillante Rebellion, G-Drive or Jackie Chan DC Racing, and current second place driver is Matevos Isaakyan)
  • 3rd place driver in GTE-Pro championship team (AF Corse, Porsche or Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, and current third place driver is Egor Orudzhev by six points over Alfonso Celis Jr.)

Two other drivers are linked to this test as well, at different ends of the open-wheel experience spectrum.

Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has been linked to a Toyota seat for this test, with DailySportscar posting on Tuesday that Alonso had been to the team’s Cologne, Germany base for a seat fitting. Other reports have surfaced that Alonso is close to the test, as well.

Quite by contrast, Mazda Road to Indy race-winning veteran Garett Grist will test for Jackie Chan DC Racing. The young Canadian was the lead pro in BAR1 Motorsports’ PC class victory in that class’ finale at Motul Petit Le Mans and is exploring a full-time switch to sports car racing after dabbling in it this year.

FIA WEC has the full entry list thus far linked here.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.