The No. 8 Audi R18 leads the FIA WEC season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain after the first hour, as the championship-leading No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid lost a lap due to a left-rear puncture from contact.
Polesitter Loic Duval took the lead at the start as Neel Jani passed the sister Porsche of Timo Bernhard.
However, both Porsches would lose out to a charging Marcel Fassler, who also passed the No. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi to end the opening hour in second position.
Jani was running third when he suffered the puncture following contact with Christian Ried’s KCMG Porsche 911 RSR on lap 28, which dropped him to 7th, one lap down from the leader.
However, with closest championship rivals Toyota No. 6 only running fifth, the Porsche is still on track for the championship.
In LMP2, Gustavo Menezes in the Signatech-Alpine held the lead from the start, with Bruno Senna inheriting second for RGR Sport after Alex Lynn’s No. 44 Manor Oreca 05 Nissan was swamped at the start.
Lynn then made an early stop, which vaulted him to third ahead of Extreme Speed Motorsports teammates Pipo Derani and Giedo van der Garde, who came under heavy pressure from Rene Rast.
Gianmaria Bruni made the best start from third to take the GTE-Pro lead in the early stages, but was leapfrogged in the pits by the No. 97 Aston Martin of polesitter Jonny Adam.
Bruni’s team-mate James Calado emerged from the pits in second, ahead of championship leader Marco Sorensen and the best of the Ford GTs driven by Andy Priaulx.
Ried led the GTE-Am class at the one-hour mark, but pitted shortly afterwards, returning the Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R to the lead.
Ricky Taylor had started the car third in class, but managed to pass Pedro Lamy and Emmanuel Collard before handing over to team-mate Romain Brandela.