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Fittipaldi Fastest Rookie in Bahrain Test as Alonso Debuts

Pietro Fittipaldi tops the FIA WEC Rookie Test in Bahrain as Fernando Alonso makes his LMP1 debut…

Photo: Porsche

Pietro Fittipaldi enjoyed a solid first outing in a LMP1 car as he finished as the fastest rookie in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season test in Bahrain.

In the final official run for the Porsche 919 Hybrid before the closure of the LMP1 program, Fittipaldi was given the opportunity to feature in the Rookie Test as a prize for his World Series Formula V8 3.5 title victory on Friday.

After allowing Timo Bernhard to complete a shakedown in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid in the morning session, Fittipaldi posted a fastest time of 1:42.275 in the afternoon to finish as the top rookie in the test.

Fittipaldi finished seven-tenths of a second clear of two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso, who completed over 100 laps for Toyota in his first LMP1 test.

Sebastien Buemi completed a handful of laps in the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to set the car up before handing the reins over to Alonso, who was given the remainder of the day to get to grips with the LMP1 car ahead of a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year.

The Spaniard ended the day as the second-fastest rookie ahead of Thomas Laurent, who only featured in the morning session in the No. 7 Toyota.

Konstantin Tereschenko ended the day as the fastest LMP2 runner for TDS Racing in the No. 28 Oreca 07 Gibson ahead of Gabriel Aubry and Rinus van Kalmthout.

Porsche led the GTE-Pro runners as it opted to test with existing factory drivers. LMP1 drivers Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber joined the quartet of regular GTE-Pro WEC drivers to split running in the No. 92 and No. 91 Porsche 911 RSRs, which finished P1 and P2 respectively in class.

The sole GTE-Am entry to the Rookie Test was that of Clearwater Racing’s No. 61 Ferrari 488 GTE, with Olivier Beretta and gentleman driver Ishikawa Motoaki sharing running.

RESULTS: Bahrain Rookie Test

Photo: Porsche

Fittipaldi: Prize LMP1 Test “Felt Amazing”

The grandson of F1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi, Pietro Fittipaldi took the honor of being the final person to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid in anger as he enjoyed his maiden LMP1 test.

“It felt amazing,” Fittipaldi said. “Beforehand we did a bit of preparation here, but those guys did a really good job to get me up to speed in about an hour.

“There’s a lot of procedures even to turn on the car and turn it off and everything. So they did a really great job.

“The car’s amazing for sure. I heard a lot of people telling me about this car, explaining to me how it is with a four-wheel drive, that the acceleration is going to be amazing, and it definitely was.

“The first run was just to get familiar with everything, and then a second and third run I was really able to push the limits of the car. I really enjoyed it.

“It’s a huge honor [driving the 919 Hybrid]. They said this is probably the last test day they’re going to do, so it’s really amazing.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

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