The Porsche Team with its two Le Mans Prototypes enjoyed a very positive first day of practice at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The Porsche 919 Hybrids covered 162 laps and set the best time of the day.
In the first of the two 90-minute free practice sessions car number 20 was third (1:45.510 min/38 laps), while car number 14 came sixth (1:46.356 min/39 laps). In the second session, held in the dark, car number 14 was fastest overall (1:43.375 min/41 laps) and car number 20 came third (1:44.457 min/44 laps).
The six-hour race in Bahrain is the seventh and penultimate round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship. Qualifying will be held on Friday afternoon, the race will start on Saturday at 15:00 hrs with the majority of it being run in the dark.
Quotes after free practice:
Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1: “As we had seen on other circuits we have raced on before and as Neel proved today, again we have been very strong on a single lap with fresh tyres. But also, regardless of topping the time sheets, the sessions were good and we completed our programme. We have had a better first day than at other race weekends. To a limited extent this is down to the test we had here in Bahrain. But this was nine months ago and our car has changed a lot since then. Now we have to see how the track conditions develop and how we can adapt the car’s set-up.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 14
Romain Dumas (36, France): ”We have had a good day one here. Nevertheless, we struggled a bit with the front axle, and we have to improve this for the race. It was nice to drive in the dark and also then the grip level on the cooler track was a bit better compared to the first session.”
Neel Jani (30, Switzerland): “In the afternoon we were focussing on long runs and set-up work. Step by step we have managed to improve the car. Obviously our car is quite strong on fresh tyres, but overall we still have room for improvement. P1 is always nice, but we will only know tomorrow in qualifying what it’s worth.”
Marc Lieb (34, Germany): “I have done a long run to see how the car and the tyres behave over the distance. We have learnt a lot and we need to improve a few things, but we have had a better start here compared to earlier race weekends. Even if the test was a long time ago, it has made a small impact.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 20
Timo Bernhard (33, Germany): “We were doing a lot of set-up work for the race today. The consistent weather conditions here in Bahrain help a lot in regard to this. The LMP1 car’s lap times are very tight, so it is impossible to predict the order for qualifying or the race. The track was a bit sandy and slippery and I find traffic management more difficult than elsewhere. If you have a car in front in the infield corners you lose quite a lot of time. Recently in Fuji or Shanghai we have been in the same situation on the straights, and this meant we were able to overtake without losing time.”
Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand): “It was a very positive first day for us. If you look at our day one pace, it is the closest we have come to the front. We had no problems with the car. The competition is very tight and I have the feeling this might become the closest race we have had so far.“
Mark Webber (38, Australia): ”It was a pretty smooth day for the number 20 car. We got some good information and did the best we could with our race preparation. In our first year this is obviously still a bit of a weakness for us, we need to work on it more and more. But the guys did a good job and our car was very reliable.”