Bahrain 8h WEC: Kobayashi puts #7 Toyota on pole for decider

The #7 Toyota will start the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship title decider in Bahrain on pole position after Kamui Kobayashi topped Hypercar qualifying on Friday.

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The point that comes with pole means that Kobayashi and co-drivers Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez only have to finish Saturday's Bahrain 8 Hours to retain their championship.

Third place in the three-race Hypercar field will be enough to give them the title even if teammates Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima win the race aboard the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

Kobayashi posted a 1m46.250s on his first run, which was more than six tenths up on Hartley's 1m48.895s.

Both Toyota drivers went out for second runs: Kobayashi didn't set a representative time, while the three tenths Hartley found to get down to a 1m46.540s wasn't enough to wrest the pole.

The Alpine A480-Gibson ended up 0.775s off the pace, closer than in qualifying for the first race of the Bahrain double-header, courtesy of a 1m47.025s from Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Filipe Albuquerque snatched LMP2 pole position right at the end of the 10-minute prototype session. The Portuguese found seven tenths on a second set of tyres aboard the United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson.

His 1m49.525s was enough to beat the 1m49.819s from Norman Nato, who did not improve on a second run in the TDS-run Realteam Oreca.

Antonio Felix da Costa took third place in the first of the JOTA Oreca, his 1m49.910s coming on the second flying lap of his solo run.

Giedo van der Garde was fourth, and second in the Pro/Am sub-class behind Nato, aboard the Racing Team Nederland Oreca run by TDS with a 1m50.149s on his second run.

The WRT entry that took P2 honours in the six-hour Bahrain race last weekend was only seventh in Ferdinand Habsburg's hands.

Porsche driver Kevin Estre took his fifth GTE Pro pole of the season despite a strong challenge from Ferrari and losing his first lap time to a track limits violation.

The Frenchman's 1m56.041s, slightly quicker than his deleted lap, in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 gave him a margin of less than two tenths over James Calado in the fastest of the AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GTEs, which have received a Balance of Performance boost for this race.

Pole for the Porsche means that Estre and full-season teammate Neel Jani have drawn level on points with Ferrari pairing Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

Estre and Jani are joined for this weekend's eight-hour race by Michael Christensen, who drove with them at the Portimao and Le Mans 24 Hours rounds.

Calado's 1m56.201s was four tenths up on third-placed Gianmaria Bruni's Porsche. The Italian lost his first two lap times as a result of going off track and posted his legitimate time of 1m56.541s after the chequered flag had fallen.

Daniel Serra brought up the rear of the GTE Pro pack in the second Ferrari with a time of 1m56.603s.

Ferrari came out on top in GTE Am after its cars received a similar power increase to the Pro cars under the latest BoP.

Roberto Lacorte took the top spot with a 1m58.712s aboard the AF Corse-run Cetilar Racing entry by just four hundredths from Francois Perrodo in the championship-leading AF car.

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Qualifying results (Hypercar and LMP2):

Cla # Drivers Car Class Avg Time Gap
1 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'46.250  
2 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'46.540 0.290
3 36 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
Alpine A480 HYPERCAR 1'47.025 0.775
4 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'49.525 3.275
5 70 Switzerland Esteban Garcia
France Loic Duval
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'49.819 3.569
6 38 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'49.910 3.660
7 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
Netherlands Job Van Uitert
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.149 3.899
8 20 Denmark Dennis Andersen
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Poland Robert Kubica
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.372 4.122
9 1 Colombia Tatiana Calderon
Germany Sophia Flörsch
Netherlands Beitske Visser
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'50.744 4.494
10 31 Netherlands Robin Frijns
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.063 4.813
11 21 Sweden Henrik Hedman
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.134 4.884
12 28 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.145 4.895
13 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.187 4.937
14 44 Slovakia Miro Konopka
United Kingdom Olli Caldwell
France Nelson Panciatici
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'51.424 5.174

Qualifying results (GTE Pro and Am):

Cla # Drivers Car Class Avg Time Gap
1 92 France Kevin Estre
Switzerland Neel Jani
Denmark Michael Christensen
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 1'56.041  
2 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 1'56.201 0.160
3 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
France Frédéric Makowiecki
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 1'56.541 0.500
4 52 Brazil Daniel Serra
Spain Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 1'56.603 0.562
5 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Italy Antonio Fuoco
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'58.712 2.671
6 83 France François Perrodo
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Italy Alessio Rovera
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'58.759 2.718
7 85 Switzerland Rahel Frey
Belgium Sarah Bovy
United Kingdom Katherine Legge
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'58.958 2.917
8 56 Norway Egidio Perfetti
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Italy Riccardo Pera
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'58.989 2.948
9 33 United States Ben Keating
Luxembourg Dylan Pereira
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'59.087 3.046
10 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Brazil Augusto Farfus
Brazil Marcos Gomes
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'59.096 3.055
11 88 United Arab Emirates Khaled Al Qubaisi
Zimbabwe Axcil Jefferies
France Julien Andlauer
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.359 3.318
12 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.492 3.451
13 77 Germany Christian Ried
Australia Jaxon Evans
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'59.936 3.895
14 57 Japan Takeshi Kimura
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
Australia Scott Andrews
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 2'00.301 4.260
15 777 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
United Kingdom Andrew Watson
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 2'00.364 4.323
16 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
United Kingdom Tom Gamble
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 2'01.282 5.241
17 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Andrea Piccini
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 2'01.941 5.900
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