After the high drama in Brazil that saw Toyota secure an historic first win in only their third race the teams and drivers now head to the Middle East for the next round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Bahrain. Since 2004 the desert kingdom has welcomed Formula One, being the first Middle Eastern country to host a Grand Prix. On Saturday 29 September history will be made again when the people of Bahrain will have the opportunity to see the newest FIA World Championship and witness Le Mans style endurance racing for the first time.
For Bahraini race fans the FIA WEC grid contains a number of familiar drivers like Alex Wurz, Giancarlo Fisichella, Tonio Liuzzi, David Brabham, Karun Chandhok, Allan McNish and Olivier Beretta, who will be known from their time in F1 but the depth of talent on the WEC grid means that the goal is to introduce a new breed of stars from the world of sports car racing.
The talk after the 6 Hours of São Paulo is all about how Audi will respond to the historic win at Interlagos for Toyota, or will the Japanese manufacturer take another win at the Bahrain International Circuit. This is great news for everyone as a great race for the podium is in store as the cars race into the night on the 29th September.
Teams and drivers taking part in the FIA WEC come from all over the world but one team is flying the flag for the United Arab Emirates, the nr29 Gulf Racing Middle East Lola-Nissan of Fabian Giroix, Keiko Ihara and Jean-Denis Deletraz. The team haven’t had the best of luck in 2012 but perhaps racing in the Middle East will bring them the change of luck they deserve.
Seven cars are entered in LMP1. Audi is once again fielding two cars, the nr1 hybrid car will be driven by world championship leaders Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, while the nr2 car will be driven by Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen. The Toyota TS030 will be driven by Round 5 winners Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Wurz.
Apart from the two Audis and the Toyota, the field includes four LMP1 Privateer teams with Rebellion Racing enjoying success in almost every round this season. The team took a 1-2 in Brazil, with Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost taking the top honours for the FIA Endurance Trophy rankings. The challenge to the Swiss team comes once again from the two British teams, Strakka Racing and JRM.
Once again the LMP2s have the biggest grid with 11 cars. The American Starworks Motorsports team travel to Bahrain with wins in Brazil and the high profile 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Heures du Mans class titles to their credit, edging them closer to the LMP2 FIA crown. However they face stiff opposition from all sides and the LMP2 battle will be one to watch in Bahrain.
The LMGTE Pro entry is once again four cars but with Ferrari fighting Aston Martin fighting Porsche, with some of the best GT drivers in the world at the wheel, the GTE Pro category is certainly one of quality over quantity. This was proven in Brazil when the nr51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella was pushed all the way to the chequered flag by the nr97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner. With Ferrari taking the last three wins expect Aston Martin and Porsche to start settling scores in Bahrain.
The LMGTE Am category has also proven to one of the most hotly contested classes in the FIA WEC, with seven cars on the grid. In addition to Ferrari and Porsche, Chevrolet Corvette have two cars on the grid, both run by the highly experienced Larbre Competition team.
ACO President Pierre Fillon said: “After a fantastic event in Brazil we are now looking forward to the 6 Hours of Bahrain and establishing the Spirit of Le Mans in the Middle East for the first time. All twenty eight cars that raced in Brazil will be flown to Bahrain. For the Bahraini fans the grid will include some familiar names from Formula One and they will be introduced to some new names from the world of sports car racing that I’m sure will become equally familiar over the next few years. The track and the facilities at the Bahrain International Circuit are amongst the best in the world and we are very pleased to be staging the first ever Le Mans style endurance race in the Middle East at this circuit.”
Source: FIA World Endurance Championship