Juan Pablo Montoya didn’t waste any time getting up to speed in the Porsche 919 Hybrid, as the Colombian topped the time charts in Sunday’s FIA WEC Rookie Test in Bahrain.
The open-wheel and NASCAR ace laid down a 1:40.861 lap time late in the three-hour afternoon session to outpace the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, driven by Richie Stanaway, by 1.273 seconds.
Montoya’s time was just over one-second slower than Timo Bernhard’s pole-winning lap set on Friday, which saw cooler night-time conditions. Bahrain marked his first laps in the LMP1 contender.
The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner shared the wheel of the Porsche with Mitch Evans, who logged 53 laps in the No. 17 car with a best time of 1:42.946.
Sam Bird, the third WEC-nominated LMP1 rookie, completed 37 laps in the No. 1 Toyota TS040 Hybrid alongside fellow GP2 ace Alex Lynn, with the newly crowned LMP2 champion setting a 1:45.318 lap.
LMP2 was led by Matthew Rao in the Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan, while 2015 Porsche Supercup champion Philipp Eng topped GTE-Pro, edging out Nicky Catsburg, also in a Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR by 0.232 seconds.
Here are some other news and notes from today’s rookie test:
***Aston Martin Racing debuted its 2016-spec Vantage V8, with Darren Turner completing 72 laps in the GTE contender, posting a 2:01.636 lap time, which was some 1.2 seconds slower than the pace-setting time from a 2015-spec GTE car.
***Toyota Gazoo Racing had both of its TS040 Hybrids on track, with the No. 2 car of Anthony Davidson concentrating on tire development. However, the car stopped on track to bring out one of two red flags, in the afternoon and did not return.
***A spin into the gravel trap for Strakka Racing LMP2 rookie Lewis Williamson brought out the first red early in the two-hour morning session. Tio Ellinas logged 14 laps in the team’s Gibson 015S Nissan until the car suffered engine failure and was done for the day.
***The AF Racing BR01 missed most of the morning session with a suspension issue, although completed more than 50 laps in total on the day with Memo Rojas and GP2 driver Julian Leal. Rojas told Sportscar365 he’s exploring LMP2 options for both the WEC and IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship for next year.
***David Heinemeier Hansson got his first laps at the wheel of a Porsche 911 RSR, with the 2014 WEC GTE-Am champion setting an impressive 2:01.485 lap time in the No. 92 Porsche Team Manthey squad. Heinemeier Hansson, who will not return to Tequila Patron ESM, is exploring options in LMP2 and GTE-Am for next year.
***Matt Bell was quickest of the six Aston Martin Evolution Academy drivers, edging out Dan Lloyd who both sampled the Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE for the first time.
***Bell, Lloyd, along with Jamie Chadwick, Devon Modell, Ross Gunn and Jody Fannin, are in the running to land a factory Aston Martin seat in 2016.
RESULTS: Bahrain Rookie Test