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Bahrain Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday Notebook from Bahrain International Circuit…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***Following its double tub replacement, Audi has remarkably used a total of seven different chassis this year. Both of the R18 e-tron quattros were replaced following Silverstone, while two were written off at Le Mans.

***The freshly rebuilt No. 1 car made it out for Free Practice 1 after a mammoth 12-hour job by the Audi Sport mechanics that began at 3 a.m. Thursday morning with a bare tub flown in from Germany. The No. 2 crew had a few days to rebuild its car around a spare tub which was already on-site.

***Thursday night’s Free Practice 2 could have almost been mistaken for a session run during the daytime, due to the intensity of the lights around Bahrain International Circuit. Remarkably, the lights were only operating at 50 percent power tonight, but brightly lit up the 15-turn, 3.363-mile circuit.

***Balance of Performance has continued to be a hot topic, particularly in the GTE ranks, with some drivers and teams feeling the Aston Martin currently has a distinct advantage. “Aston Martin is just on another planet. Instead of the driver’s license, they need a license for airplanes!” AF Corse’s Toni Vilander said during Thursday’s press conference.

***The GTE-Am class No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage of Nicki Thiim posted a time nearly one-second quicker than Vilander’s co-driver, Gianmaria Bruni, who paced GTE-Pro in the same session. Aston Martin has already locked up the GTE-Am title, with it either to go to the the “Dane Train” No. 95 crew or the Paul Dalla Lana-backed No. 98 car.

***OAK Racing is unlikely to step up to LMP1 next year, with the necessary budget still yet to come together for the program to get the green light. “You never know but we are not ready. The design office has worked a long time on it but to put the car on track early next year is impossible,” team principal Philippe Dumas said.

***Dumas also confirmed there will be no additional LMP2 entry for Sao Paulo later this month, which potentially dashes hopes of a racing return for Emerson Fittipaldi, who was rumored to be part of an all-Brazilian driver lineup in an OAK-run car. An announcement about Fittipaldi’s effort was due around last weekend’s Brazilian GP but was never made.

***G-Drive Racing could expand into a two-car operation next year in LMP2, with the OAK-run squad close to confirming a new powerplant from a luxury sports car manufacturer for its Russian-backed Ligier JS P2s. An announcement is expected to come by the end of the month.

***Saturday’s Six Hours of Bahrain features a number of off-track activities, including a live performance from multi-award winning Egyptian artist Tamer Hosny, a pre-race stunt show by Red Bull athletes Abdo Feghali and Jokke Sommer, as well as entertainment for children.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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