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Conway, Toyota Lead After Hour 1 At Bahrain

Aston Martin uses strategy to take the lead in Pro, United and Project 1 dominant in LMP2 and Am

The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 HYBRID leads the 8 Hours of Bahrain after 60 minutes of racing, Mike Conway storming to the front at the start.

Conway held the lead by Turn 3 on Lap 1 after a collision between the #5 Team LNT Ginetta and #1 Rebellion shook up the order at the front.

Bruno Senna held the lead through Turn 1 in the R-13 Gibson but was turned round by a spinning Charlie Robertson, who lost the rear end of the #6 Ginetta and collided with the Brazillian at the entry to Turn 2. The #8 Toyota was also involved, sustaining front-left damage which forced the team to replace the nose at the first stop.

The incident dropped the Rebellion to the back and forced the #6 Ginetta into the pits for repairs during the subsequent safety car which was called for debris on circuit. It also resulted in the #22 United Autosports ORECA rising to second overall.

But by the end of the hour four of the five LMP1s would end up ahead of the LMP2 pack. Conway leads by 38 seconds after the first set of stops, over Mike Simpson in the #6 Team LNT Ginetta. Bruno Senna fought back to third, making a move shortly before the round of pit stops on Sebastien Buemi in the #8 Toyota, who sits fourth after complaining of boost issues following the safety car.

The #5 Ginetta is a lap down and 14th overall, the team forced to change the fuel flow metre and replace bodywork during its two pit stops in the hour. He’s also due to serve a drive-through for a collision with the MR Racing Ferrari under braking into Turn 1 towards the end of Hour 1, which will cost the team further time.

In LMP2 United still leads from pole, but the order behind has changed dramatically. Giedo van der Garde has vaulted Racing Team Nederland to second, with Kenta Yamashita moving from sixth to third during the opening hour in High Class Racing’s ORECA.

Signatech Alpine’s Andre Negrao is fourth, while Ho Pin Tung sits fifth in the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA.

Cool Racing looked to be in the battle for the lead early on, but Nicolas Lapierre, who started the race, gradually slipped down the order from third before handing over to Alexz Coigny who rejoined the race eighth. G-Drive Racing’s Aurus also fell down the order during Hour 1, it was third after the opening lap, and is now down to seventh.

In GTE Pro, Gianmaria Bruni lost the lead in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR after contact with Miguel Molina’s AF Corse Ferrari at Turn 1 at the start. This caused Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 488 GTE Evo to take the lead, with Kevin Estre’s #92 Porsche second and the #95 Aston Martin of Marco Sorensen third.

Sorensen’s teammate Nicki Thiim would hold the lead as Hour 2 began, AMR pitting the #95 earlier than the other GTE Pro runners, and jumping to the lead after the cycle was over. Calado sits second in the #51, with Christensen down to third in the #92. The #91 has recovered to fourth after the Lap 1 contact.

Am is being dominated by Team Project 1 so far, the #57 pole-sitting Porsche of Ben Keating leading Egidio Perfetti in the #56 sister car. Best of the rest is the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage. Points leader TF Sport is fourth, its Vantage ahead of the #83 AF Corse Ferrari which sits second in the class standings.

Seven hours remaining…