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Toyota Leads Frantic First Hour At Bahrain

Manor ahead in LMP2

After an hour of racing in the 2017 6 Hours of Bahrain, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s #8 TS050 HYBRID is at the top of the screens, after a lengthy duel with the #1 Porsche and sister #7 TS050

Leading the way in the #8 is Sebastien Buemi, the Swiss moving into the lead, getting past Pole-sitter Neel Jani in the #1 919 at Turn 1 up the inside after 30 minutes. Jani then battled hard with Mike Conway in the sister #7 Toyota for second, the Britain eventually squeezing past through traffic at Turn 13 to make it a Toyota 1-2.

Prior to the end of the hour though, the LMP1 front-runners came in for their first stops, the #7 slipping to fourth after the team changed tyres and put Jose Maria Lopez in the car.

The newly-crowned LMP1 World Champions in the #2 Porsche meanwhile, are delayed and out of sync with leaders after Timo Bernhard hit a bollard in the middle of the track after a brief early safety car period (called for another bollard on the track). The German suffered from oversteer due it getting lodged in the front end, prompting him to bring the car in for an unscheduled stop to change the nose.

The car rejoined in fourth, and eventually was promoted to third before the end of the hour, the #7 Toyota after its longer stop rejoining behind the #2.

In LMP2 the #25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07 of Vitaly Petrov is leading, the Russian climbing the order and taking the lead off Nicolas Lapierre in the Signatech Alpine into Turn 1, capping off an impressive opening stint.

Behind, the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA eventually moved into second after Lapierre took tyres at the first stops and rejoined the race seventh. Third is the #24 Manor ORECA, Jean-Eric Vergne, like Petrov, looking pacy early on.

Outside the top three, after running as high as third before the first stops is the #31 Vaillante Rebellion 07 Gibson of Bruno Senna, the Brazilian losing some places after a slower first stop.

Lappiere meanwhile, who rejoined the race seventh after its tyre stop, climbed to sixth in the class just before the end of Hour 1, getting by David Heinemeier Hansson who had a spin in front of him after tagging the #95 Aston Martin at Turn 11.

GTE Pro has been close, but without much door-to-door racing thus far. The #71 AF Corse Ferrari, from Pole, dominated proceedings early on, Sam Bird opening up a four-second lead over the other runners.

Second was held by Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford, with Jonny Adam in the lead Aston Martin sitting in the final podium spot. Before the first round of stops, Alessandro Pier Guidi managed to get past Marco Sorensen’s #95 Aston Martin for fourth place, the Aston heading into Hour 2 fifth.

In GTE Am, Keita Sawa in the Clearwater Ferrari pulled away after a messy start for the class runners. The Japanese racer created a margin of two seconds after 60 minutes of racing, over the Spirit of Race 488 of Francesco Castellacci.

The championship-leading #98 Aston Martin sits third, after Mathias Lauda fell to fourth on the opening lap, and battled Christian Reid’s Dempsey Proton Porsche for the final top three spots in the opening 30 minutes before taking the place.

The Gulf Racing UK Porsche, due to its penalty for missing Qualifying, is a lap down in fifth.