Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain was a scorching endurance race for all the 31 competitors in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima started the race from Pole Position in Hypercar, ahead of the sister car #7 with Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway, and Alpine Elf Matmut #36 with Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere in P3.
In LMP2, JOTA #28 with Tom Blomqvist, Sean Gelael and Stoffel Vandoorne was on Pole, in front of United Autosports #22 with Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer, while JOTA #38 with Antonio Felix da Costa, Roberto Gonzalez and Anthony Davidson would start third.
Realteam Racing #70 with Loic Duval, Norman Nato and Esteban Garcia had the LMP2 Pro/Am Pole.
Porsche #92 with Kevin Estre and Neel Jani was on Pole in GTE Pro, followed by Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz in Porsche #91, AF Corse Ferrari #52 with Miguel Molina and Daniel Serra, and #51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado in fourth.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 with Rino Mastronardi, Andrea Piccini and Matteo Cressoni took Pole Position in GTE Am, ahead of Paul Dalla Lana, Augusto Farfus and Marcos Gomes in Aston Martin Racing #98, and Team Project 1 Porsche #56 with Egidio Perfetti, Matteo Cairoli and Riccardo Pera.
The race started at 11 o’clock local time, where there was a lot of zigzagging down to Turn 1.
Racing Team Nederland #29 took the lead in LMP2 category straight away, with a classic aggressive Giedo van der Garde, while there was also a bit of battle between Realteam Racing #70 and United Autosports #22 in Turn 3.
AF Corse Ferrari #54 had progressed in the GTE Am category, and put Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 under pressure for the lead.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 outbraked itself in Turn 1, but managed to avoid hitting AF Corse Ferrari #83 and Cetilar Racing #47.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #85 was on the way up in GTE Am, where Sarah Bovy did a good job yet again.
Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 had to be pushed back into the garage as the wheel suspension was broken after the contact with Alpine Elf Matmut #36.
Things got physical between Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 and AF Corse Ferrari #54, who hit each other under braking in Turn 1. Both cars could luckily continue, with only insignificant damage. Later on the same lap, #54 took the lead. At the same time, #60 drove into the pits. The mechanics went to repair the gearbox.
There was contact between JOTA #28 and Aston Martin Racing #98, which sent #28 to a spin, so Sean Gelael fell back to P10 in the LMP2 category.
While the positions kept changing in LMP2 and GTE Am, it wasn’t the case in Hypercar and GTE Pro, where everyone remained where they started.
The lead in GTE Am changed again when D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 overtook AF Corse #54.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 got a Drive-through for speeding in the pitlane.
Kessel Racing Ferrari #57 had a spin in Turn 1, when Kimura came a bit too close to Iron Lynx Ferrari #60 and Cetilar Racing Ferrari #47, and had to brake and avoid them at the same time.
Alpine Elf Matmut #36 had some technical problems, when Matthieu Vaxiviere reported a lack of power. After he reset the car, the problem seemed to disappear.
Toyota Gazoo Racing changed positions of their two cars, after #7 had been right behind #8 for the first 45 minutes of the race, and the team wanted to see if #7 was faster.
Alpine Elf Matmut #36 pitted as the first Hypercar, once again because of the smaller size of their fuel tank.
The lead of the race went back to Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 again when Mike Conway in #7 made a little mistake, giving Sebastien Buemi a good run down the straight and into Turn 1.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 had some problems mounting the left rear tire on their first pitstop. The mechanic was about to step away from the car before coming back and fastening the tire one more time.
High Class Racing #20 had a half spin in Turn 1, where Fjordbach was unlucky to brush Cetilar Racing Ferrari #47 under the spin, which damaged the front of the Danish LMP2 car.
The two Toyotas changed positions again, giving #7 another chance to drive faster, if Conway could.
In GTE Pro, the two AF Corse Ferraris swapped places, so #51 was now ahead. They were about fifteen seconds behind the two Porsches, which were about a second from each other.
Inter Europol Competition #34 took the lead in the LMP2 category when Alex Brundle caught up with Giedo van der Garde in Racing Team Nederland #29.
There was also a lead change in GTE Am as Ben Keating in TF Sport Aston Martin #33 overtook Satoshi Hoshino in D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777.
Alessio Rovera in AF Corse Ferrari #83 also drove past #777 a few laps later, setting their sight on the class leader.
Team WRT #31 begyndte at nærme sig fronten af feltet, da Robin Frijns took andenpladsen from Frits van Eerd hos Racing Team Nederland #29.
AF Corse Ferrari #51 and #52 changed positions again, where Miguel Molina even showed his gratitude by turning on his flashing light, when he got past Alessandro Pier Guidi.
There was a Full Course Yellow after about two hours, due to a lot of debris on the way to Turn 1, which came from D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777’s bonnet, that got blown off.
It changed the positions since some teams had just pitted before the FCY period, while others used the chance to pit.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 was ahead of Alpine Elf Matmut #36 and Toyota Gazoo Racing #8. #36 used the chance to refuel and thus they fell back behind #8 again, but with only four seconds.
Team WRT #41 was in front in LMP2, while Racing Team Nederland #29 was second in the general LMP2 class and leading the LMP2 Pro/Am.
In GTE Pro, the order was Porsche #92 and #91 ahead of AF Corse Ferrari #52 and #51, while AF Corse Ferrari #83 was leading the GTE Am.
It didn’t take long, however, for Aston Martin Racing #98 to take the lead in GTE Am after Francois Perrodo was back in the car for his second stint, since Silver-ranked driver Marcos Gomes was a bit faster in #98 than Bronze-rated Perrodo.
TF Sport Aston Martin #33 took second place in GTE Am when Dylan Pereira overtook Francois Perrodo in AF Corse Ferrari #83.
DragonSpeed USA #21 lost their left rear tire on the out lap, right after Juan Pablo Montoya came in the car. It triggered a Full Course Yellow as the wheel rolled around in the middle of the track. Luckily, it didn’t hit any car.
A lot of the teams used the opportunity to pit, since it was at the end of a stint for many of them.
Dennis Andersen had overtaken High Class Racing #20 in P9 in LMP2, which was also third in LMP2 Pro/Am.
Alessio Rovera was back in AF Corse Ferrari #83 after Francois Perrodo had completed his minimum time, and Rovera went to work right away – one of them by overtaking AF Corse Ferrari #54.
There was again debris on the track, which required another Full Course Yellow, so that the marshals could clean them up.
TF Sport Aston Martin #33 took the lead in GTE Am when they overtook their brand colleague Aston Martin Racing #98.
D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 got a Drive-through for a wrong procedure under the FCY period.
United Autosports #22 went off the track in Turn 1 when Fabio Scherer outbraked himself.
D’Station Racing Aston Martin #777 got called into the pits by the stewards as the car had lost debris on the track – besides the bonnet earlier in the race.
With two hours left, Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 was the leader in Hypercar, Team WRT #41 in LMP2, Realteam Racing #70 in LMP2 Pro/Am, Porsche #92 in GTE Pro, and TF Sport Aston Martin #33 in GTE Am.
DragonSpeed USA #21 had a spin in Turn 1, after Juan Pablo Montoya came a bit too close to Rahel Frey in Iron Lynx Ferrari #85, and he had to avoid her at the very last second and lost control of the car.
Inter Europol Competition #34 got a push in Turn 1 by United Autosports #22, when Filipe Albuquerque did a very late dive on Renger van der Zande. The two of them weren’t in a direct battle for position, since #34 was one lap behind. The stewards gave a 10-second pitstop penalty to #22, who had to serve it on their next pitstop.
Inter Europol Competition #34 changed the driver to Alex Brundle shortly afterwards, and he had problems with the door in the driver’s side, which kept opening up. He tried to close the door again and again, but the stewards lost patience and ordered them to fix it in the pits.
Aston Martin Racing #98 and Team Project 1 Porsche #56 had an intense battle for second place in GTE Am. Marcos Gomes in #98 had lost the place but he took it back, combined with Matteo making a little mistake under braking in Turn 1. The Italian came back later on the lap, but he had crossed the white lines. The stewards ordered him to give the position back.
There was a battle for second place in LMP2, where JOTA #28 had caught up with United Autosports #22 – and Tom Blomqvist in #28 overtook Filipe Albuquerque from the outside in Turn 1.
Team Project 1 Porsche #56 had caught up with Dempsey-Proton Competition Porsche #77, putting the brand colleague under a lot of pressure.
Inter Europol Competition #34 got a 4-minute Stop & Go for mounting a tire that wasn’t approved.
ARC Bratislava #44 had to get pushed into the garage due to an electronic problem with the car. They came back to the track after about eight minutes.
The lead in LMP2 Pro/Am changed with a bit over half an hour left when Racing Team Nederland #29 overtook Realteam Racing #70.
JOTA #38 was catching United Autosports #22 fast, coming up right behind them with twenty minutes left of the race. After that, it was a national Portuguese battle between Filipe Albuquerque and Antonio Felix da Costa. AFdC attempted to come from the inside in Turn 1 but couldn’t make it past. But one lap later, he finally managed to drive past, with a tiny push at the start of the corner.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi won the race, ahead of Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley, and with Alpine Elf Matmut #36 with Matthieu Vaxiviere, Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao in P3.
Team WRT #31 with Ferdinand Habsburg, Robin Frijns and Charles Milesi won the LMP2 category, in front of JOTA #28 with Stoffel Vandoorne, Sean Gelael and Tom Blomqvist, and with JOTA #38 driven by Anthony Davidson, Roberto Gonzalez and Antonio Felix da Costa in third place.
Racing Team Nederland #29 with Frits van Eerd, Job van Uitert and Giedo van der Garde won LMP2 Pro/Am, ahead of Realteam Racing #70 with Loic Duval, Norman Nato and Esteban Garcia, while High Class Racing #20 with Robert Kubica, Anders Fjordbach and Dennis Andersen finished third.
In GTE Pro, it was Porsche #92 driven by Neel Jani and Kevin Estre who won, ahead of their sister car #91 with Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni, while AF Corse Ferrari #51 with James Calado and Alessio Pier Guidi finished third, in front of their teammates Daniel Serra and Miguel Molina in #52.
TF Sport Aston Martin #33 with Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga and Dylan Pereira won GTE Am, ahead of Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 with Christian Ried, Jaxon Evans and Matt Campbell, and Team Project 1 Porsche #56 with Riccardo Pera, Egidio Perfetti and Matteo Cairoli.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 has extended their lead in the championship, ahead of #8 and #36. Toyota Gazoo Racing also has secured the team championship, regardless of what happens next weekend. And thus the winner will also only be between #7 and #8.
In the LMP2 category, Team WRT #31 has taken the lead, followed by JOTA #28 and #38. Nothing is decided yet, with United Autosports #22 still having a theoretic chance for fourth place.
In LMP2 Pro/Am, Racing Team Nederland #29 leads the championship, ahead of DragonSpeed USA #21 with their technical problems, who apart from the loose wheel also had antenna problems with the data logger. Realteam Racing #70 is third, and the last team still has a chance of winning the title. High Class Racing #20 and ARC Bratislava #44 can no longer do that.
AF Corse Ferrari #51 holds on to their lead in GTE Pro by the skin of the teeth, with just one point ahead of Porsche #92. Porsche #91 is in third place. Only #51 and #92 can win the championship.
In GTE Am, AF Corse Ferrari #83 keeps the lead in the championship, but TF Sport Aston Martin #33 has come much closer. AF Corse Ferrari #54 is in P3. Only #83 and #33 have the chance to win the title.
The FIA World Endurance Championship will run the last round of the 2021 season on Saturday, in an 8-hour race at the same track in Bahrain.