***Fernando Alonso has made an appearance in the FIA WEC paddock today, having made a private visit to today’s Six Hours of Bahrain. The two-time Formula One World Champion, who is set to join McLaren-Honda in 2015, served as the honorary starter for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. “I am very happy to be here in Bahrain and see my old friends, especially Mark [Webber],” he said.
***The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro is ready to go for today’s race, with the team having worked until 11 p.m. last night on its second tub change and rebuild of the week. Lucas Di Grassi will start from 13th on the grid, at the tail end of the LMP1 qualifying order, per a bulletin issued by the FIA.
***Toyota’s Pascal Vasselon said they will not reveal their 2015 driver lineup until after the season finale in Sao Paulo. It’s understood the announcement will likely be made in early December, with rumors linking Mike Conway to a full-season drive, potentially as a replacement to Nicolas Lapierre, who has been forced to sit out the final four races of the year.
***Conway is set for his second race start of the year with Toyota, as the IndyCar star will share the wheel of the No. 7 car with Stephane Sarrazin and Alex Wurz today. “I feel good for today,” he told Sportscar365. “I got a lot more laps in FP2, which helped a lot just get settled in and get used to what the tires are capable of and look after them there.”
***Toyota’s 2015-spec TS040 Hybrid will begin testing in January, with Vasselon confirming the possibility of moving towards a battery-based energy storage system instead of its current supercapacitor units. A decision has yet to be made. “We have targets to improve, but based on this year, it would not be a sound decision to change everything and start from [scratch],” he said.
***KCMG’s WEC director Lorens Lin has revealed there’s a slight chance to see the team field a second Orecq 03R-Nissan at the season finale in Sao Paulo later this month. The Hong Kong-based squad plans to expand into a two-car operation in 2015 with at least one new car.
***Lucas Auer and James Rossiter will return to the wheel of the Lotus CLM P1/01 AER in Brazil, rejoining Pierre Kaffer in the LMP1-L entry. Simon Trummer and Nathanael Berthon complete the lineup alongside Kaffer for today’s race.
***While Toyota’s Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi need to finish sixth or better to clinch the Drivers’ World Championship, and Toyota claim a double podium finish to seal the Manufacturers’ title, championships can be locked up in all four classes. Below are the additional scenarios:
***LMP2: Now with a 7-point lead following G-Drive Racing’s pole, SMP Racing’s Sergey Zlobin can take the drivers’ title if he wins the race and the G-Drive Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal fail to finish. As the closest title race of the four classes, the championship will likely be decided in Brazil.
***GTE-Pro: Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander can lock up the drivers’ title if they win, although the teams and manufacturers titles are now too close to call, with AF Corse only 11 points ahead of Porsche Team Manthey and an even narrower 7-point gap between Ferrari and Porsche.
***GTE-Am: An Aston Martin team will win the title, but which one? The No. 95 Young Driver-backed entry of David Heinemeier Hansson and Kristian Poulsen hold a 32-point lead over teammates Pedro Lamy, Christoffer Nygaard and Paul Dalla Lana, meaning a win for the “Dane Train” would seal up the championship one race early.
***Watch the Six Hours of Bahrain on the official FIA WEC App, available in the iTunes and Android stores. The race gets underway on Saturday at 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET). Live timing and scoring will be provided at http://live.fiawec.com.