The Alley

Young and old “rookies” in Bahrain

 

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Juan Pablo Montoya

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Juan Pablo Montoya

A number of new faces were seen in action at the FIA World Endurance Championship Bahrain test including some young stars of the future plus an ex-Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar race winner – Juan Pablo Montoya.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro #8 (Audi Sport Team Joest), Richie Stanaway

Of the three drivers selected by the WEC promoter for an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the highly developed LMP1 hybrid prototypes, it was New Zealander Richie Stanaway who set the fastest time of the day in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

His time of 1:42.134 ensured that he headed his fellow countryman Mitch Evans in the 2015 Championship-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid, the latter’s best time of 1:42.946 set in the morning session. All three rookies proved themselves to be on the pace of the teams’ regular drivers.

As with Stanaway and Evans, FIA WEC LMP2 Champion Sam Bird enjoyed more than the 30 allocated laps in the Toyota TS040 HYBRID of Toyota Gazoo Racing, driving alongside a fellow Briton who has also come from the GP2 paddock, Alex Lynn. The latter took part in the Rookie Test at the invite of the team, as did reigning Indy 500 Champion Juan Pablo Montoya who is in Bahrain as a guest of Porsche.

The Colombian got to grips with the Porsche 919 in spectacular fashion, having prepared in the team’s simulator, and ended up stopping the clocks fastest overall with a time of 1:40.861 – one second faster than fastest race laps set by Porsche’s Neel Jani yesterday in the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain.

“The car is amazing, it is currently the most advanced race car on the planet and it is a hell of a toy,” Montoya said.

“I have driven all kinds of cars and this one is a lot of fun. It has a lot of power, is really, really stable and because it is so predictable, it invites you to overdrive it. That’s what I found the most impressive thing.

“In fact the car is so good that you don’t realize the speed your going. Beforehand it was a bit shocking when I was given a 30 page manual of how to operate the car, but then it wasn’t that difficult.

“The track here is good and I enjoyed the time here in Bahrain a lot. I came early to get an idea of how the team is doing things. I knew Fritz Enzinger and Andreas Seidl from Formula One days and it was great when they invited me to drive the 919 Hybrid.

“We don’t have any plans for the future, we didn’t even talk about it. I came to Bahrain to have fun and drive the hell out of the car and it was great.”

Evans – a protege of newly crowned FIA WEC P1 champion Mark Webber – climbed aboard the Porsche after winning in the GP2 Series in Bahrain on the weekend. This was Evans’ second time aboard the 919 Hybrid for Porsche.

“It’s great to be back in the Porsche 919 Hybrid and to enjoy this level of technology,” Evans said.

“The car is really great to drive and it’s easy to get confidence in it. I’m learning little things here and there every lap. The car benefits a lot from the four-wheel drive under braking and obviously acceleration.

“The 919 has got a lot of downforce and the way it looks after its tyres is a lot better than in a GP2 car. The 919 Hybrid is a very refined car, the team has done a great job. Thanks to Porsche and to the FIA who have enabled me to do this rookie test.”

Thirteen cars took place in the 3-hour test session this afternoon, and they included Toyota’s second Porsche in the hands of Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway and the Team ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER with Austrian René Binder experiencing his first laps at the wheel of an LMP1 car.

Of the three LMP2 cars running in the test, Britain’s Matthew Rao set the pace in the No.36 Signatech Alpine A405B-Nissan with a best lap of 1:52.026.

The two LMGTE Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSRs continued their championship-winning performance by leading the way, with Porsche Supercup Champion Phillip Eng of Austria stopping the clocks this morning with a lap of 2:00.349, 0.2 seconds ahead of Dutchman Nick Catsburg. Experienced WEC racer David Heinemeier Hansson also ran in the Porsche 911 today.

 

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