Friday 18 November, Bahrain: Aston Martin Racing has achieved the perfect start to its race weekend, as the team take a 1-2 in GTE Pro and pole position in GTE Am for the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Bahrain.
With the sun set in the Bahraini desert, the #97 V8 Vantage GTE of Darren Turner (GB) and Jonny Adam (GB) set identical lap times of 1m56.953 to clinch pole position for tomorrow’s title deciding round and score a vital pole position championship point.
The pair were soon followed by GTE Pro and GT Drivers championship leaders Nicki Thiim (DN) and Marco Sørensen (DN), who brought their #95 entry home with an average lap time of 1m57.081 to lock out the front row of the GTE Pro grid.
With the team in contention for all five GT championships on offer – including the overall GT Manufacturers title – the result brings a major boost to the team’s hopes, with the deficit to the championship leaders reduced to nine points.
Turner said, “We needed to get both cars on the front row of the grid. It was important that one of us took the pole to help the #95 crew for their championship bid and that obviously helps with the GT manufacturers title too. It’s going to be a very tough race tomorrow but we couldn’t have asked for a better qualifying session. Jonny’s jumped in and done a fantastic job and I’m really delighted for all of the #97 boys after working so hard to repair the car after Shanghai”.
Adam said, “It’s nice to be back here in Bahrain especially after doing my testing work with Dunlop last year. There were positive signs last year and its clear the tyre has improved drastically throughout 2016. The car’s been getting better and better throughout the weekend and it was ultimately perfect in that session. The car feels really strong, particularly on the longer runs and we’ll be looking to fight for victory tomorrow”.
Nicki Thiim, driver of #95 said, “That was brilliant for Aston Martin. It’s been quite difficult in the past couple of races but the car is working really well here, particularly the tyre, and I think that’s where our advantage is. Tomorrow, it’s a long race but I want to win and make sure that we get the team, drivers and GTE Pro championships. I will be taking the start for tomorrow, I want to stay out of trouble and then we’ll see what the race brings”.
In GTE Am, the #98 V8 Vantage GTE of Pedro Lamy (P), Paul Dalla Lana (C) and Mathias Lauda (A) claimed pole on the final flying lap of the session. After Lamy and Dalla Lana placed the car in second following their initial timed runs, Lamy was sent back out for one final attempt.
After crossing the start/finish in the final minute of the session, a sensational lap brought the pair’s average to 0.02 seconds ahead of their nearest rival, providing them with an essential pole position championship point to keep their title hopes alive.
Paul Dalla Lana said, “That was as much drama as you can have from any quali session. We knew Ferrari would through everything they had at it, including using an additional set of tyres to push us off the top step in the final moments of the session. Unfortunately, we had to use three sets of tyres too to make sure Pedro could keep us at the top by, but it means we keep fighting. You never know what can happen tomorrow. Stranger things have happened and we may find ourselves fighting for the title at the end”.
Team Principal Paul Howarth added, “That was an absolutely sublime performance right across the team. I was particularly impressed with Jonny’s faultless lap. We rewarded him with a drive here in Bahrain and he’s rewarded us with a pole alongside Darren. The #95 again delivered a highly credible performance to lockout the front row in GTE Pro and we were kept waiting right until the last lap of Am qualifying to deliver their fourth consecutive pole position.
As with previous races, the whole team turns its focus to delivering at the highest level and go into tomorrow’s race with the confidence that they can claim the championships on offer”.
The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain begins at 16:00 local time on Saturday 19 November, with the team in the running for the GT Manufacturers, GT Drivers, GTE Pro team, GTE Am team and GT Am Drivers championships.