Juan Pablo Montoya impressive at FIA WEC Rookie Test
The inaugural FIA WEC Rookie Test was held at Bahrain International Circuit today, the day after thrilling finale of 2015 World Endurance Championship. LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes was again at the track, together with some GTE cars. The biggest star of the day was former F1 driver and current IndyCar racer Juan Pablo Montoya, not only because of his reputation but because he was the fastest man on the track.
Montoya participated in the FIA WEC Rookie Test as a guest of Porsche Team. After he was prepared in the team’s simulator Montoya made impressive lap times on the track with championship winning #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid. His best lap time was 1.40.861, one second faster than fastest race laps set by Porsche’s Neel Jani yesterday in 6 Hours of Bahrain. Other LMP1 test drivers were Mitch Evans, Richie Stanaway and Sam Bird, who were invited by the WEC promoter.
21-year-old New Zealaner Mitch Evans, who won Sunday’s GP2 race at Sakhir, rounded 54 laps with Porsche 919 Hybrid. Another New Zealander Richie Stanaway completed 63 laps with Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Briton Sam Bird, who won LMP2 WEC title with G-Drive on Saturday, was sitting behind the wheel of Toyota TS040 Hybrid. Toyota also had a guest driver from GP2 paddock – Alex Lynn.
Team ByKolles’ LMP1 prototype CLM P1/01 AER was also present at the track, driven by 23-year-old Austrian GP2 driver Rene Binder. Three LMP2 cars joined the field. Signatech Alpine A450B (Nissan) was driver by F3 driver Matthew Rao, AF Racing’s BR01 (Nissan) was driven by three-time Daytona 24 winner Memo Rojas and GP2 driver Julian Leal, while Strakka Racing’s Gibson 015S (Nissan) was tested by FR3.5 driver Tio Ellinas and Briton Lewis Williamson.
Of the five LMGTE cars testing today, two were Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSRs and three were Aston Martin Vantages. Drivers in Porsches were Phillip Eng, Nick Catsburg and David Heinemeier Hansson. Aston Martin Racing hosted six drivers of Evolution Academy programme. Ross Gunn, Jamie Chadwick, Matt Bell, Jody Fanin, Devon Modell and Daniel Lloyd were joined by Archie Hamilton, Fabian Hamprecht and Salman Rashid Al Khalifa. The AMR team also tested Vantage V8 which they are developing for 2016 season.