Porsche dominated the 6 hours of Shanghai when the penultimate round of this years FIA WEC race was held at the Chinese circuit.
Porsche #1 with Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard was leading from halfway through lap 1 all the way to the end of the race – only Toyota Gazoo #5 was sniffing around the lead a bit on the first lap. The defending champions took the victory with almost a minute to Toyota Gazoo #6 and #5 on the other steps on the podium, with Porsche #2 finishing 4th. That result meant that the drivers title are still open, but Porsche has now won the manufacturers’ title.
Aud had an okay first hour with their #8, before they came into trouble refueling the car to full tank. That resulted in an extra pitstop, as well as poor laptimes, which wasn’t related to that problem. It got even worse for the German team halfway through the race, when #8 collided with #7 during an overtaking, which meant that #7 had to go into the garage for repairs that took 25 minutes. When the collition happened, the Air Jack connector was damaged, so they couldn’t lift the car up when they needed to change the tires during the pitstops.
Among the privateer teams in LMP1 we saw a victory for Bykolles Racing #4 ahead of Rebellion Racing #13. That means that Oliver Webb and Simon Trummer still have a chance to grab 2nd in the privateer title – they only need to finish the finale around to do so.
In LMP2 we have seen a total dominance from G-Drive Racing #26. They only started the race from 4th, but during the first hour of the race, we saw some great overtakes from Alex Brundle that meant him and Will Stevens and Roman Rusinov took the win with one lap margin to Extreme Speed Motorsport #30 and RGR Sport by Morand #43. However it was Signatech Alpine #36 who was the happiest of all teams, since they drove a very steady 4th place home and grabbed the LMP2 title for Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi.
The GTE-Pro category lost one of its title candidates in a very dramatic turn 1, lap 1. Mathias Beche in Manor #45 LMP2 lost the rear of his car and spun into the middle of the GTE-Pro field. Aston Martin Racing #97 with Richie Stanaway couldn’t avoid him and damaged the front left suspension so badly that they had to retire the car. Stanaway’s teammate, Darren Turner, was in 3rd position in the Championship ahead of the race, but he has now lost too many points to the sister car, with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen, to be able to clinch the title. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK #67 with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell dominated the race in impressive style from start to finish, while their sister car #66 had to fight quite hard to earn 2nd, after battling with AF Corse #51 throughout the race. Thiim/Sørensen still finished 4th in Aston Martin Racing #95, but ahead to the closest title rivals in AF Corse #71. Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 finished 6th in class.
The GTE-Am race was totally dominated by Aston Martin Racing #98 with Mathias Lauda, Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana behind the wheel. They never looked back and won the race by nearly one minute to AF Corse #83 and KCMG #78. On the very final lap of the race there was a contact between RGR Sport by Morand #43 LMP2 and the #83 and #78. 3 guys into one corner didn’t go well, and the stewards were instantly looking into the incident. The decision was to move KCMG back behind AF Corse with a time penalty. AF Corse #83 still needs one single point to be 100 % sure of the title, while Aston Martin Racing #98 is just about to secure second place. They currently lead Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing #88 by 22 points, so it would take a victory from the Porsche and a non-finish for #98 – but we have seen that happening at the ELMS finale in GTE, so everything is still possible.
The finale race of the season will be run in 2 weeks time in Bahrain, where the teams will battle for one last time. We will also say goodbye to Audi Spot Team Joest as well as Mark Webber.
We are very much looking forward to the finale in two weeks time at the Sakhir circuit.
Update – KCMG got a penalty post race – race report updated