Newly-crowned FIA World Endurance Champion Neel Jani topped the time charts with LMP1 veterans leading the way in Sunday’s WEC Rookie Test in Bahrain.
The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid was quickest of the day, with a 1:42.137 lap time, edging out the sister Porsche of Timo Bernhard by 0.022 seconds.
While both of the Porsches, as well as the pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids, focused mostly on tire and car development for 2017, each LMP1 manufacturer ran a rookie driver for a required 30-lap run.
Gustavo Menezes ended up quickest of the three WEC-selected rookies, reeling off a 1:43.626 lap time in the No. 1 Porsche, ahead of Paul-Loup Chatin in the No. 7 Audi R18, who set a 1:43.910 prior to the Audi running into mechanical problems.
Toyota tried out Pipo Derani, who laid down a best lap of 1:44.292 in the No. 5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.
Ex-Formula One and rally star Robert Kubica turned his first laps in LMP1 machinery, in the No. 4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01 AER, setting a best lap of 1:47.222 in the LMP1 Privateer entry.
LMP2 was led by Alex Brundle who, along with Mike Guasch, was awarded a free test in the No. 44 Manor Oreca 05 Nissan courtesy of his European Le Mans Series LMP3 title.
Alex Lynn, who took part in the final two WEC races of the season with Manor in LMP2, meanwhile, was quickest in GTE, in his first laps in an Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
Lynn’s 1:58.774 edged out reigning British GT champion Ross Gunn by 0.518 seconds, with Joran King third, also in an Aston.
RESULTS: WEC Rookie Test
Other news and notes from the test:
***Mazda Road to Indy drivers Felix Serralles, Patricio O’Ward and Will Owen all got their first tastes of LMP2 machinery, with Serralles setting the second quickest time in class in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca Nissan. Both O’Ward and Owen tested with RGR Sport.
***Other LMP2 rookies that took part in the test included Thomas Laurent (Signatech Alpine) and Tom Jackson (G-Drive).
***Khaled Al Qubaisi turned laps in the No. 97 Aston Martin, in his first experience with the GTE-Pro championship-winning team. It’s understood the Emirati is unlikely to return to Proton Competition next year, largely due to the Balance of Performance situation.
***Aston Martin Racing tested a number of other drivers in addition to Al Qubaisi, Lynn, Gunn and King, including Euan Hankey, Matthew Parry, Salih Yoluc and Ahmad al Harty.
***Paul-Loup Chatin had the honor of turning the Audi R18’s final official laps, with the Frenchman completing nine laps in the LMP1 contender until it suffered front drivetrain failure in the morning. It did not take part in the afternoon session.
***WEC Driver Advisor Yannick Dalmas completed nine laps in the Porsche and 11 laps in the Toyota, in order for the four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner to gather a better understanding of current LMP1 hybrids. His best time, in the Porsche, was only five seconds off Jani’s quickest time from the day.
***The only reported incident during the day came in the morning session when the No. 6 Toyota of Stephane Sarrazin collided with the No. 4 ByKolles car of Francesco Dracone, causing bodywork damage to the Toyota. A small gearbox issue delayed the Toyota later in the morning.
***The No. 36 Signatech Alpine A460 Nissan ran the Lumriank leader lights system on Sunday. The WEC currently utilizes a three-bulb system, previously used in the American Le Mans Series. The system came into the spotlight in the wake of the GTE-Pro finish at Le Mans this year, when Ford protested Risi Competizione’s non-functioning system.