WEC: High stakes as FIA WEC 6hrs of Bahrain roars into action this weekend in Sakhir
BIC, Sakhir – The FIA WEC Six Hours of Bahrain roars into action this weekend at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), and fans attending the mega event are in for some serious neck-and-neck racing amongst the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) competitors.
Being the seventh and penultimate round of the season, the stakes are raised for the entire WEC field come Friday and Saturday (November 14 and 15) in the Sakhir desert.
The pressure will be most felt in the series’ premier class, the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1)-Hybrid, where three of the world’s most celebrated manufacturers will be battling it out hard for a famous victory.
Toyota Racing are currently the leaders and favourites to claim the LMP1 Manufacturers’ World Championship, but last year’s winners, Audi Team Sport Joest, will be looking to delay any title celebrations.
Porsche Team, meanwhile, will be hoping to maintain their recent good form and make some noise to finish their debut season running a Hybrid car.
“I can’t wait to get going again in Bahrain,” said Toyota’s Sebastien Buemi, a former resident of the Kingdom of Bahrain who drives the championship-leading TS040 Hybrid no. 8 along with teammate Anthony Davidson.
Buemi and Davidson are also the leaders of the World Endurance Drivers Prototype Championship, and a victory in Bahrain would ensure them a fantastic double.
“Our car has been great all season so from that point of view I am optimistic,” Buemi added. “It is very exciting to be leading the World Championship so close to the end of the season and the target all year has been to win both titles; I will be giving everything to achieve that.”
Davidson added: “We are within touching distance of the drivers’ World Championship but I know we cannot afford to get carried away.
“Anything can happen so it’s really important we stay calm this weekend, take no risks and get the job done.”
The Audi pair of Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler will be hoping to keep their rivals from clinching both crowns. Sharing the Audi R18 e-tron quattro no. 2 with third driver Andre Lotterer, Treluyer and Fassler expect a challenging battle.
“This next race is a challenge,” said Treluyer. “The heat in the desert and the sand on track make special demands on us. It’s not easy to optimally set up the car for these track conditions.”
Fassler concurs. “Bahrain is a special race because the heat there is simply unusual for the cars and the drivers, plus there’s the sand,” he said. “The track conditions constantly change. As long as we’ve still got a chance of winning the World Championship title, we’re going to battle for it.”
The Porsche pairing of Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley will look to maintain their recent good form – the same that saw them clinch pole position and claim third place on the LMP1 podium in the WEC’s previous round in Shanghai, China.
Webber and Hartley hope their past experiences in Bahrain will help in their cause driving the Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 20 with teammate Timo Bernhard.
“Technically the circuit should be good for us and for our car,” said Webber. “It will be interesting to see how our performance develops, especially as we have been testing in Bahrain early this year.”
Hartley added: “I know Bahrain from my GP2 days and from testing with the 919 Hybrid. After the recent races have been progressively more encouraging with podium finishes and our pole position in Shanghai, we feel a bit more confident. I can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be as or perhaps even more competitive in Bahrain. I’m looking forward to it.”
This year’s day-to-night race is the third edition of the Six Hours of Bahrain but it will be the first time it is being held under the complete track floodlighting system of BIC.
As the WEC’s only stop in the Middle East, the kingdom’s race will be the only chance for the region’s motorsport fans to personally catch the spirit of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Apart from racing in the WEC, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East and the MRF Challenge Formula 2,000 Championship, there will be plenty of off-track entertainment for the whole family.
Highlighting the weekend’s off-track entertainment programme will be a post-race concert featuring popular Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny, as well as a breath-taking pre-race stunt show performed by world-renowned Red Bull athletes Abdo Feghali and Jokke Sommer.
In addition to this, fans will be able to interact the WEC’s star drivers before they get into their cars in an autograph session on Saturday.
All this plus so much more awaits race-goers of all ages at the FIA WEC Six Hours of Bahrain.
Tickets to the weekend will be available at the BIC’s Welcome Centre located at the circuit entrance. They are also being sold at the BIC sales outlet at Bahrain City Centre located on the ground level near gate number three. They can also be bought online from BIC’s official website, www.bahraingp.com, or by calling the BIC Hotline on +973-17-450000.
Tickets are BD20 each for adults and BD10 for children aged 12 years old and younger. Toddlers aged up to three years old will be able to attend with their families for free.
All ticket-holders will be automatically entered into a raffle for a chance to win one of 36 valuable prizes. The raffle draw will be held on Race Day at 3pm, which is also the start time of the Six Hours of Bahrain.
FIA WEC DRIVERS, TEAMS AND OFFICIALS CONTINUE TO TOUCH DOWN IN BAHRAIN
Drivers and team personnel as well as WEC officials continued to arrive in Bahrain ahead of this weekend’s highly anticipated event.
Many of the WEC’s superstar drivers have already touched down in Bahrain and were captured by BIC photographers at Bahrain International Airport. They include Toyota’s Buemi; Audi’s Treluyer, Fassler, Lotterer and Duval; and G-Drive Racing’s Olivier Pla and Julien Canal, among others.
More arrivals are expected over the coming days ahead of the highly anticipated Six Hours of Bahrain.
MRF CHALLENGE CONFIRMS STRONG FIELD OF 16 TALENTED DRIVERS
A field of 16 talented single-seater race car drivers will be competing in the India-based 2014 MRF Challenge Formula 2,000 Championship, which is a part of the weekend’s events at the Six Hours of Bahrain.
The MRF Challenge is one of two series supporting the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at BIC. The other is the Bahrain-based Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East.