Neel Jani (CH) and Nick Tandy (GB) have achieved the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s 20th pole position in what was the Le Mans Prototype’s last qualifying. Together with André Lotterer (DE), they will head into the final round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on Saturday in Bahrain. Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) – the trio that was crowned as new driver world champions two weeks ago in Shanghai – qualified third for the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s farewell race.
In the short 20 minute WEC qualifying session it is the average time of the two fastest laps of two drivers that counts. Jani/Tandy (1:39.383 minutes) and Bernhard/Hartley (1:40.011 minutes) were on duty at the Persian Gulf for the final qualifying. The overall fastest lap was achieved by Jani in 1:39.084 minutes. The 919 Hybrid’s impressive tally since its debut back in 2014 reads: 20 pole positions from 34 races with 13 front row lock-outs. Remarkably in the 2015 season when three manufacturers competed in LMP1, only the 919s made it on to the front row.
In the third free practice session on Friday morning in Bahrain, Timo Bernhard topped the time sheets with a lap of 1:42.438 minutes when he was doing a qualifying simulation on used tyres. The sister car, in the hands of Neel Jani and Nick Tandy was second fastest. The respective third drivers of each car, Earl Bamber and André Lotterer, didn’t drive today.
The six-hour race into the Arabian night will start at 16:00 hrs local time on Saturday. Stable ambient conditions of around 25 degrees Celsius are expected to continue.
The Porsche LMP Team after qualifying
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Achieving a 20th pole-position in our 34th race is simply amazing. I’m overwhelmed just how perfect the team is preparing for the last race with the highest rate of concentration and motivation, despite the fact that we have secured both world championship titles already in Shanghai. Due to the predicted high temperatures for tomorrow, we still have the possibility to finish the last WEC round at the end of our fourth season successfully. Thanks to everybody, I’m very much looking forward to the race.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Congratulations to the number 1 car crew for pole position. Given how free practice went, we didn’t really expect to be on pole. But Neel got the hammer down on his lap. Everything was spot on and then Nick also managed to improve. For four years we have never had to retire a car in qualifying and achieved really good results. That’s quite a strong team effort. Today we are really pleased with pole position but tomorrow we expect a tough race. The Toyotas were really strong on their long runs. We will fight until the 919 Hybrid’s very last lap.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 1:
Neel Jani (33, Switzerland): “I thought to myself, this is the last ever qualifying session for the 919 Hybrid and I have to use everything I’ve learned over the past four years . . . and obviously this was successful. I’m mega happy that we got pole-position here. Nick’s lap in his second attempt was good too. I’ve taken quite a lot of poles with the 919, like the very first one together with Marc Lieb at Spa in 2014 and now the very last one. So far this part of the 919’s story is full circle for me. But tomorrow we want to bring the last win home as well!”
Nick Tandy (33, Great Britain): “To claim pole position for the 919’s final race is fantastic and great for the Porsche team’s morale. We put everything in to the qualifying session. We did one more run than we’d planned but it was necessary and was ultimately a good strategy. It’s a super feeling being on pole!”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2
Timo Bernhard (36, Germany): “A tough qualifying. The balance was different to what we had in Free Practice and not 100% perfect. P3 seemed to be the maximum we could achieve today. But congratulations to our ‘sister’ car, it was an awesome lap from Neel. Now we look forward to the race – the battle is on.”
Brendon Hartley (28, New Zealand): “We started quite well and I was half a second up on the ‘sister’ car despite the balance being completely wrong on my first lap. After Timo’s run, we decided to save our tyres for the race. It should be a good fight tomorrow.”