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FIA WEC, 6 Hours Of Bahrain - Race Preview

Part One LMP1

With WEC rounds coming thick and fast at this point in the season the reviews of races and previews for the next will inevitably merge.

1 AUDI SPORT TEAM JOEST M Audi R18 e-tron Quattro André Lotterer/ Benoit Tréluyer/ Marcel Fässler 
2 AUDI SPORT TEAM JOEST M Audi R18 e-tron Quattro Tom Kristensen/ Allan McNish
7 TOYOTA RACING M Toyota TS030 – Hybrid Alexander Wurz/ Nicolas Lapierre
12 REBELLION RACING M Lola B12/60 Coupé – Toyota Nicolas Prost/ Neel Jani
13 REBELLION RACING M Lola B12/60 Coupé – Toyota Andrea Belicchi/ Harold Primat
21 STRAKKA RACING M HPD ARX 03a – Honda Nick Leventis/ Danny Watts/ Jonny Kane
22 JRM M HPD ARX 03a – Honda David Brabham/ Karun Chandhok / Peter Dumbreck

After a dominant performance in Brazil Toyota move on the the circuit that the team have said all along is best suited to their current TS030 package "Big braking and acceleration zones" is how Nicholas Lapierre described the desert circuit - Lapierre will, once again, form a driving duo with Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima again busy with Super GT in Japan.  Based on their, their team, and their car's performance at Interlagos it would be brave to bet against them this time out!
Audi's immediate response was to announce that they are fielding a pair of R18 e-tron Quattros next time out, and for the remainder of the season. If we have seen the last of the R18 Ultra it will have had a remarkably short career, just 4 races.
The #1 crew is unchanged and the sister #2 car moves to just a duo (Kristensen and McNish) and will complete the season with that line-up after Lucas di Grassi's one-off (for now at least) Audi outing.
Will the e-tron be able to make up some of the lost ground to the Toyota? There are those within the team that believed from much earlier in the year that development needs to be ramped up to respond to the pace, and the reliability, of their competition.
Audi though are as good as they get - expecting massive progress over just two weeks whilst the cars are in transit is a very big ask!
The Rebellion Racing team meanwhile are at the height of their powers, the whole package, team and cars, has taken a big leap forward lately with confidence in the speed and reliability of the Lola Toyotas there for all to see.
The team have taken on the challenge of completing the WEC with two cars plus a third car for Petit Le Mans, a race they should be in contention to win overall.  That could put the infrastructure under some strain but it again underlines their confidence.
In Brazil they dominated the P1 privateer battle where they extended their points lead once again - Both HPDs were fast but both Lola's were faster, with the exception of the final half hour when Harold Primat, on fading rubber, was unable to fend off a stunning final Jonny Kane stint.
Strakka came out ahead in the Intra HPD battle courtesy of real pace and despite a fumble from Nick Leventis when he tangled with Primat- that was a shame as the Team Owner had been more convincing than ever in his ability to deliver the pace and consistency necessary.
JRM had that pace too but a competitive run was spoiled by a throttle sensor issue under the Safety Car that cost the #22 car time and track position. Both HPD crews know that they'll need absolute reliability to close the gap with Rebellion.