Porsche AG Team Manthey scored its first pole of the FIA WEC season following an impressive 1-2 qualifying run for tomorrow’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.
Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz peddled their updated No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR to a best four-lap average of 1:58.833, edging out the sister No. 91 entry of teammates Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet by 0.127 seconds.
It came despite an issue for Lieb, as the car got stuck in third gear on his out lap. By the time the German limped the Porsche back to the pits, the problem had went away and he managed to complete his qualifying run.
“We didn’t expect to be on pole,” Lietz said. We expected to be close to the competitors. But it was a pretty good lap. We had a small problem when Marc went out but we fixed it during the session and he did two fantastic times.”
It was the first sweep of the front row for the German manufacturer this year, in the rollout of Porsche’s updated 911 RSR, which features aerodynamic and mechanical developments.
The class championship-leading No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke will line up third in class, ahead of title rivals AF Corse with a revised lineup of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in its No. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia this weekend.
Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella, who moves to the No. 71 Ferrari this weekend, sit 5.5 points behind Turner and Mucke. A win for either of the Ferraris would be enough to take the drivers’ title.
The top five in class was completed by the No. 99 Aston Martin of Richie Stanaway and Bruno Senna, who will be joined by Pedro Lamy tomorrow.
Top qualifying honors in GTE-Am went to the No. 95 Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim and Kristian Poulsen, who combined for a 2:00.203 average.
It was just 0.034 seconds ahead of the No. 81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari of Rui Aguas and Davide Rigon, who qualified second.
Aguas and co-driver Enzo Potolicchio could take the drivers’ title on Saturday if they win the race and the championship-leading No. 96 Aston Martin finishes third or lower.
The No. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche with drivers Raymond Narac and Jean-Karl Vernay, the third driver pairing still in the title hunt, will start fifth in class.
The Six Hours of Bahrain takes the green Saturday at 3 p.m. local (7 a.m. ET).