Bahrain Confidential was invited by Porsche to witness the much anticipated FIA WEC Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain.
Since its inception in 2012, Bahrain has been a part of the annual FIA WEC calendar, hosting its own endurance event that boasts its unique characteristics. Known as the FIA WEC Bapco Six Hours of Bahrain, this race ensures plenty of thrills and spills from an enormous grid of more than 30 challengers. The Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain marked the ninth and final round of the 2017 FIA WEC season.
The action was intense and hotly contested in the three supporting series, including the World Series Formula V8 3.5, the MRF Challenge and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. The World Series Formula V8 3.5 was holding the final round of its 2017 campaign, while the MRF and Porsche GT3 Cup were each staging their season-openers.
Rene Binder, Julien Falchero, Rinus van Kalmthout and Tom Oliphant were all victorious in their respective championships.
World Series Formula V8 3.5
Starting from pole, Binder did well to hold on to his lead until the chequered flag, despite the tough challenge of newly crowned world champion and race one winner Pietro Fittipaldi who finished 2.542 seconds behind.
Ace rookie Tatiana Calderon claimed the third 13.573s back, and they completed the podium for the last time this season.
With his title-winning performance this weekend, Fittipaldi, who is the grandson of two-time Formula 1 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, will have a chance to test the 919 Hybrid of WEC champions Porsche.
French GP3 driver Julien Falchero won his first race of the MRF Challenge in Bahrain when he got past Rinus van Kalmthout in the final race of round one. Van Kalmthout had earlier dominated race three, winning ahead of championship leader Felipe Drugovich and Falchero.
In the opening race of the day, van Kalmthout made the perfect getaway to lead into the first corner with Drugovich holding off Falchero. Behind them Alex Karkosik managed to pass Dylan Young as Martono lost places. Van Kalmthout pulled away with Drugovich and Falchero locked in battle.
He was not troubled and crossed the finish line more than eight seconds ahead. Falchero came alongside Drugovich but was unable to pass the Brazilian and had to settle for third.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
Meanwhile, Tom Oliphant clinched a fine victory in race two of the season-opening round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, held as part of the FIA WEC Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain. The Briton snatched away the lead from pole-sitter Zaid Ashkanani and did well to hold on until the chequered flag. Oliphant triumphed just 0.527 seconds ahead of Ashkanani, who was 1.636s in front of third-place Al Faisal Al Zubair. Each of the top three overall were also the leaders in the Gold class.
Team Bahrain’s Shaikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa was the winner in the Silver category. He finished the race sixth overall 13.252s behind the victor. Khalid Al Wahaibi clinched first place in the Bronze class. He finished 22.612s off the winner’s pace. Team Bahrain’s other driver, Shaikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, was the Bronze category’s runner-up. He completed the race 33.697s behind Oliphant.
Pit Walk and Autograph Session
Race-goers who attended the 2017 FIA WEC Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain had a pair of fantastic chances to get up close and personal to the sport’s teams and drivers. As part of the weekend’s events, BIC has organised a WEC Pit-Lane Walk at noon, to be followed immediately at 12.10pm by an Autograph Session.
The Pit-Walk gave fans an opportunity to personally experience the WEC Pit Lane and see their garages and team members hard at work preparing for all the action ahead of the weekend.