Kobayashi leads Toyota 1-2 in opening practice at Bahrain

Kobayashi leads Toyota 1-2 in opening practice at Bahrain

The 8 Hours of Bahrain’s significantly disrupted first Free Practice session saw Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi record the quickest lap after a protracted red flag stoppage.

Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi finished 1-2 in their respective Toyota GR010 HYBRID Le Mans Hypercars, setting new records following a 45-minute halt in Free Practice 1 for the Bahrain 8 Hours.

In the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, Kobayashi clocked a time of 1:59.856, besting his teammate Sebastien Buemi, who was in the lead when the session was interrupted nine and a half minutes in.

Before the stoppage, Buemi had the quickest time of 1m49.976s, which he immediately improved to 1m49.960s after the action resumed.

High gusts of wind forced a loose advertising hoarding to blow onto the track causing a red flag. This was followed by attention being drawn to the banners placed everywhere on the Bahrain International Circuit before rain began to pour down.

The interruption took up half of the allotted running time as the clock was running out, but the session was prolonged to give teams a full ninety minutes to wrap up their runs. Kobayashi’s fastest time came soon after, despite the fact that the track was deemed wet to resume running.

With thirty minutes remaining, Franck Dezoteux’s No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo broke down on the track and needed to be recovered as the rain intensified. It wasn’t immediately evident what caused the stoppage, which led to a brief Full Course Yellow.

In the latter moments of the session, the rain stopped, but nothing had changed from earlier time benchmarks.

Positions three through six in the WEC Hypercar lineup were taken up by the four Porsche 963 LMDhs, with the two factory cars run by Penske positioned between the two customer entries.

In third place among the Porsche field, Gianmaria Bruni set a time of 1m50.290 seconds just after the break while running a Proton Competition Porsche entry.

The factory Porsche Penske Motorsport entries piloted by Laurens Vanthoor and Michael Christensen placed fourth and fifth, respectively. Then followed the other customer 963 from Hertz Team JOTA in sixth as the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R came in seventh in the hands of Alex Lynn.

Ferrari finished eighth and ninth, with James Calado’s 1m51.482s in the best of the 499P LMHs outpacing Miguel Molina’s 1m51.722s in the sister entry.

The two Peugeot 9X8 LMHs driven by Nico Muller and Paul di Resta finished the opening practice in positions 10 and 11, respectively, as the Vanwall Vandervell 680 LMH, driven by Esteban Guerrieri, finished 12th.

United Autosports’ Filipe Albuquerque was fastest in LMP2, following a trade of fastest times with Vector Sport ORECA-Gibson 07 in the hands of Gabriel Aubry. Albuquerque’s time of 1m54.100s gave him a lead over Aubry’s time of 1m54.654s by more than half a second.

Oliver Rasmussen in Jota’s LMP2 car trailed Ferdinand Habsburg in third place for WRT.

In GTE Am, Tomonobu Fujii’s D’Station Aston Martin Vantage GTE run by TF Sport finished first. Daniel Serra’s best time in the Kessel Ferrari 488 GTE was only six thousandths slower than the Japanese driver’s time of 1m59.516s.

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