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Bahrain Post-Race Notebook

Post-race news and notes from Saturday’s WEC 8 Hours of Bahrain…

Photo: Tim Hearn/Adrenal Media

***The No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway led all 257 laps of Saturday’s 8 Hours of Bahrain. It marked the second time this season a single Toyota has led the entire race, with the No. 8 car achieving the same feat in Fuji.

***Conway won in Bahrain for the first time in five years while Lopez and Kobayashi each claimed their first victories at the circuit. Conway won the 2016 6 Hours of Bahrain in a Toyota TS040 Hybrid with Alexander Wurz and Stephane Sarrazin.

***Kazuki Nakajima was unclear post-race whether his “small contact” with a Ferrari led the floor and rear-end damage to the No. 8 Toyota, which ultimately led to the car’s performance fading with a reduction in downforce.

***Mike Conway described the opening lap incident that saw him move from third into the lead as “Moses parting the cars” when the No. 5 Team LNT Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AER of Charlie Robertson spun and made contact with Bruno Senna’s No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson.

***Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon told Sportscar365 post-race that the race would have been “very tight” if Rebellion did not run into its issues. “I think we would have [still] won, but marginally,” he said. “They were genuinely faster, on average, not by much, but we were faster in the pit stops.”

***The No. 1 Rebellion lost three laps in the third hour when it was forced to replace an e-shift motor on the gearbox according to team manager Bart Hayden.

***Team LNT recorded its first retirements of the season, with electrical issues stranding the No. 5 Ginetta of Jordan King on track in the fifth hour and gearbox issues claiming the No. 6 entry of Chris Dyson.

***Dyson, who made his WEC LMP1 debut on Saturday, confirmed to Sportscar365 that he will be in the car for the remainder of the season, with no current clashes with his other North America race commitments.

***United Autosports’ dominant LMP2 class win came in only its fourth full FIA World Endurance Championship event and the seventh race with an Oreca 07 Gibson after making a mid-year chassis switch.

***Filipe Albuquerque, who claimed his first WEC class win since Mexico City, and Phil Hanson have closed to three points of the championship lead as a result of the race, which paid 1.5x points.

***Ben Keating takes the 10th winning trophy by American drivers in GTE-Am, the first since Patrick Lindsey at Le Mans this year, a race which the Texan initially won before being excluded due to fuel-related infractions.

***Saturday’s class winners from GTE-Pro and GTE-Am have taken over the leads of their respective championships, with Team Project 1’s Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen tied with the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari trio of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen.

***Porsche failed to reach the GTE-Pro podium for the first time this season, with the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen suffering a left-rear damper failure in the fourth hour and teammate Gianmaria Bruni sustaining a right-rear puncture just eight minutes after Estre returned to the track.

***Defending GTE World Champions Estre and Christensen now trail Aston Martin Racing’s Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen by 14 points.

****Aston Martin elected to split its strategy in the fourth hour Full Course Yellow, with the No. 97 Vantage GTE staying out. The move, according to the team’s technical director Dan Sayers, was due to tires. “With the number of laps we had to do on the last stint, we didn’t have many new tires, so it would have compromised it,” he told Sportscar365.

***High Class Racing is set for a switch to Michelin tires for the remainder of the season, with Michelin Motorsports director Matthieu Bonardel confirming to Sportscar365 that the Danish team is slated to first test on the French rubber in Sunday’s Rookie Test.

***Per LMP2 regulations, teams are allowed to make one change of tire manufacturer per season.

***A reported crowd of 38,000 people were present at Bahrain International Circuit over the weekend as the country celebrated its Bahrain National Day festivities with a variety of entertainment including an expansive fireworks display at the midpoint of the race (pictured above).

***Porsche is staying on at Bahrain International Circuit to conduct a tire test at the track tomorrow.

***The change in venue from Sao Paulo to Circuit of The Americas for the next round of the season will have an impact on the tire selection approach, according to Porsche factory motorsports director Pascal Zurlinden.

“I think everyone will have to switch the tire choice because in Sao Paulo the asphalt is really hard on tires and it’s a hot temperature at that time of year,” Zurlinden told Sportscar365. “In Texas it’s smoother on tires and it will be winter. This is the only change we should need to make.”

***The entry list for the Lone Star Le Mans event at COTA is expected to be released next week. The race will be a two-day event instead of a traditional-day weekend.

***Despite initial rumors of the team potentially curtailing its WEC program, Sportscar365 understands that Gulf Racing is expected to complete the season with its Porsche GTE-Am entry.

Daniel Lloyd & Slade Perrins contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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