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Rigon, Bird Lead AF Corse to GTE-Pro Pole in Bahrain

Davide Rigon, Sam Bird dominate proceedings in GTE-Pro qualifying for the Six Hours of Bahrain…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Davide Rigon and Sam Bird combined for their fourth class pole position of the FIA World Endurance Championship season by dominating proceedings in GTE-Pro qualifying for the Six Hours of Bahrain.

The AF Corse drivers both turned in lap times quicker than any rival car on their qualifying runs to deliver a combined time of of 1:56.033 in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE.

Rigon was able to lay down an impressive marker of 1:56.021, with Bird finishing just a couple of hundredths of a second shy on his later run in the session.

The No. 71 Ferrari took pole by three-tenths of a second from Jonny Adam and Darren Turner in the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE as the leading title contenders in the class failed to feature in the fight for P1.

Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx will start third on the grid in the No. 67 Ford GT ahead of class points leaders Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado in the second AF Corse entry, while Porsche championship hopefuls Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz struggled to P6 overall.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing failed to qualify the No. 66 Ford GT after Stefan Mücke had both his flying lap times deleted for exceeding track limits, with no time being found to give him a timed lap late on.

Aston Martin Racing took what could be a crucial point in the battle for the GTE-Am title as Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy turned in an average of 2:00.111 in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE,.

It marked their sixth class pole in nine races this year.

The extra point for pole eked the Aston Martin drivers’ and teams’ championship points lead in GTE-Am out to 11 points, meaning a top-three finish will be enough to secure the title on Sunday.

The No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche took no part in qualifying due to the fire damage sustained in Free Practice 3, leaving it at the back of the grid for the start of Sunday’s race.

The Six Hours of Bahrain is set to get underway 4 p.m. local time.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

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