By on November 19, 2017

toyota lmp1 number 8

Endurance racing is often something you put on while you are doing another activity. As the events are far too long to devote the totality of your attention to, a typical strategy would be to enjoy the start of the race and check in whenever you hear the announcers panic. Sadly, that meant I missed the highlight of the WEC’s 6 Hours of Bahrain while running out to get food.

I’m not talking about the moment the Gulf Racing Porsche 911 LM GTE collided with the 919 LMP1 and practically handed Toyota the first-place finish. I’m referencing when a cat wandered out onto the track and was almost creamed by oncoming traffic. It was, without question, the most tense moment in racing I have ever witnessed.

That’s saying something, since I already knew it was coming thanks to updates from both Jalopnik and the WEC Twitter page. But having prior knowledge of the scenario did not stop every single muscle in my body from tensing when I saw that adorable little munchkin exit the gravel trap and make its way onto an active raceway.

cat on the track WEC

Organizers immediately called for caution and whipped out the yellow flag. Fortunately, that was as serious as the situation became. The cat, now terrified, turned back and made a beeline for the barricades — completely un-squished.

The same cannot be said of Porsche’s cars, however, which seemed to be cursed throughout the race. Starting with the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid needing to have an errant bollard dislodged from its bodywork in the first few laps, things only worsened from there. Halfway through the event, Kamui Kobayashi’s No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid made contact with the No. 92 GTE Porsche of Michael Christensen in Turn 2. The incident, delayed Toyota for a couple of laps but took the Porsche out of the race permanently.

This was followed by Nick Tandy’s No. 1 Porsche 919 smacking into a Gulf Racing 911 RSR while attempting a pass roughly an hour later. Porsche’s series of mishaps resulted in Toyota finishing a full rotation ahead in LMP1 for the second time in a row. “In the briefing this morning, I told the team we had a realistic chance to win but less comfortably than Shanghai,” Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon said after after the event. “I think in a straightforward race, we would have won with 50 seconds to 1 minute, not a full lap.”

toyota lmp1 number 8

Anthony Davidson, who had apparently broken a toe mid-race, crossed the finish line 199 laps deep won Toyota its fifth win of the season. “It often happens when you get a potential full course yellow, that you have to spring into action and leg it to the car. That’s what I did, but unfortunately stubbed my toe on the door,” Davison told AutoSport. “I thought, ‘Ooh, that hurt’, and it carried on getting worse and worse through the stint.”

“A great race, a great fight one last time with Porsche,” he said. “We hit the ground running, the car felt awesome straight away. And they are just the best weekends.”

Bahrain marked the final race for Porsche in the LMP1 division of the World Endurance Championship. The manufacturer will now refocus its efforts on Formula E. “Entering [Formula E] and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E road car program,” explained Michael Steiner, the Porsche board member in charge of motorsport, earlier this year. “The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes FE attractive to us.”

For the GT class, Ferrari prevented both Porsche and Ford from claiming the points necessary to secure pole position in qualifying. Sam Bird and Davide Rigon took the class victory in the No. 71 AF Corse car in a staged finish, dropping back to allow the No. 51 car of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi to take the lead around the third hour. Eventually, Calado was ordered to slow down and hand the race to Bird’s Ferrari 488 GTE.

ferrari 488 gte

[Image: Image: Federation Internationale de l’Automobile]

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