Bahrain WEC: Buemi leads Conway in first practice

The #8 Toyota topped the times in first practice for this weekend's FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain, despite carrying a half-second performance handicap.

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Sebastien Buemi posted a 1m43.457s immediately after a red flag right at the start of the 90-minute session.

His lap eclipsed the 1m43.949s set by Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid shortly before FP1 was briefly stopped.

The 0.54s penalty carried by the #8 car reflects the slender championship lead for Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley going into Saturday's eight-hour race.

The LMP2 order was topped by Giedo van der Garde in the Racing Team Nederland Oreca. His time of 1m47.955s put him nearly two tenths up on the Signatech Alpine Oreca in which Andre Negrao recorded a 1m48.126s.

Third-fastest was the JOTA Sport Oreca on 1m48.303s. The time from Antonio Felix da Costa set at the of the session improved on teammate Anthony Davidson's earlier best for the car by two hundredths.

The United Autosports squad that sealed the class championship with victory at Le Mans was fourth fastest with Paul di Resta.

Aston Martin went to the top of the timesheets in GTE Pro in the closing minutes of the session.

Maxime Martin recorded a 1m56.560s in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE he is sharing with Ricard Westbrook after Alex Lynn was ruled out of the Bahrain event following a positive COVID-19 test.

Porsche's Richard Lietz, who set a 1m57.177s at the start of the 90 minutes, was pushed down to second by Martin's improvement. The second of the factory Porsche 911 RSRs took third in the times with a 1m57.218s from Michael Christensen.

Nicki Thiim ended fourth in the second of the Aston Martins on 1m57.508s.

The best of the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evos was more than two seconds off the pace on a 1m58.571s from James Calado.

The GTE Am class was led by Ross Gunn in the factory-run #98 Vantage. His 1m57.666s set at the beginning of the session was almost equaled by Ben Barker's 1m57.688s in the Gulf Racing UK Porsche late in the session.

Free practice resumes with the second of the three sessions at 9:00am local time on Friday, with qualifying beginning at 6:00pm.

FP1 results:

Pos. # Drivers Car Class Time Gap
1 8 SUI Sebastien Buemi
JPN Kazuki Nakajima
NZL Brendon Hartley
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 1'43.457  
2 7 GBR Mike Conway
JPN Kamui Kobayashi
ARG Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 1'43.949 0.492
3 29 HOL Frits van Eerd
HOL Giedo van der Garde
HOL Nyck de Vries
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'47.955 4.498
4 36 FRA Thomas Laurent
BRA André Negrão
FRA Pierre Ragues
Alpine A470 LMP2 1'48.126 4.669
5 38 MEX Roberto Gonzalez
POR Antonio Felix da Costa
GBR Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'48.303 4.846
6 22 GBR Philip Hanson
POR Filipe Albuquerque
GBR Paul di Resta
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'48.471 5.014
7 37 CHN Ho-Pin Tung
FRA Gabriel Aubry
GBR Will Stevens
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'48.776 5.319
8 47 ITA Roberto Lacorte
ITA Andrea Belicchi
ITA Giorgio Sernagiotto
Dallara P217 LMP2 1'53.817 10.360
9 97 GBR Richard Westbrook
BEL Maxime Martin
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 1'56.560 13.103
10 91 ITA Gianmaria Bruni
AUT Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 1'57.177 13.720
11 92 DEN Michael Christensen
FRA Kevin Estre
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 1'57.218 13.761
12 95 DEN Marco Sørensen
DEN Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 1'57.508 14.051
13 98 CAN Paul Dalla Lana
GBR Richard Westbrook
GBR Ross Gunn
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'57.666 14.209
14 86 GBR Michael Wainwright
BEL Alessio Picariello
GBR Ben Barker
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 1'57.688 14.231
15 57 USA Ben Keating
LUX Dylan Pereira
HOL Jeroen Bleekemolen
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 1'58.027 14.570
16 51 GBR James Calado
BRA Daniel Serra
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 1'58.571 15.114
17 56 NOR Egidio Perfetti
HOL Larry ten Voorde
GER Jörg Bergmeister
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 1'58.657 15.200
18 90 TUR Salih Yoluc
IRL Charlie Eastwood
GBR Jonathan Adam
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'58.801 15.344
19 71 ITA Davide Rigon
ESP Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 1'58.832 15.375
20 77 GER Christian Ried
ITA Riccardo Pera
NOR Dennis Olsen
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 1'59.045 15.588
21 83 FRA François Perrodo
FRA Emmanuel Collard
DEN Nicklas Nielsen
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.100 15.643
22 54 SUI Thomas Flohr
ITA Francesco Castellacci
ITA Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.615 16.158
23 62 GBR Bonamy Grimes
JPN Kei Cozzolino
GBR Colin Noble
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'59.728 16.271
24 88 UAE Khaled Al Qubaisi
AUS Jaxon Evans
GER Marco Holzer
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 2'00.062 16.605
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