The eighth round of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship was held in Shanghai, with the race starting in 15 degrees and light cloudy skies.
Porsche #1 instantly started to attack the pole man in Toyota Gazoo Racing #7, in the battle for the lead of the race.
G-Drive Racing #26 spun in Turn 6 on the first lap and created a bit of chaos in the LMP2 category. Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 used all that confusing to claiming second in the category, while Vaillante Rebellion #31 kept the lead.
Nicki Thiim in the Aston Martin Racing #95 defended the lead in the GTE Pro category, in front of Kevin Estre in the Porsche #92 and Olivier Pla in the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66, with the #92 giving #95 a real fight. The two were battling side by side through half a lap, before Thiim had to give up the place to Estre and shortly after, Pla too.
Mathias Lauda in AMR #98 kept the lead in the GTE Am, while Francesco Castellacci in Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 was second, ahead of Keita Sawa in Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61.
Porsche #2 and Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 were swapping places back and forth for P3 in the LMP1 category.
Only fifteen minutes into the race, we already had a contact between the Vaillante Rebellion #13 and the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77.
The two AF Corse Ferraris had fallen all the way back to last in the GTE Pro category, while Darren Turner in AMR #97 was going forward, having overtaken the two Italian cars.
23 minutes into the race, the Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 made it past Porsche #1, making it a Toyota 1-2.
Thomas Laurent in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 almost went into the back of Vitaly Petrov in the CEFC Manor TRS Racing #25, due to a small driving error by the former.
Jose Maria Lopez in #7 lost the lead of the race, when he came into contact with Nico Müller in #26, with the #7 spinning around. He made it back on track with only a few seconds lost, but enough to drop into P3. Lopez had another trip off the circuit when trying to overtake Olivier Pla in #66 round the outside of Turn 13, but he made it past the Ford without a contact.
Porsche #1 got problems half an hour into the race. Nick Tandy almost slowed to a halt on the back straight but was good to go again, after resetting the electronics. The problems had cost Tandy one and a half minutes to the leaders in the category, and thus was almost one lap down.
Andy Priaulx in Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 had caught Fred Makowiecki in Porsche #91 and put the Frenchman under intense pressure.
Tristan Gommendy in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 made a contact with Matt Rao in the CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24, which cost #37 a few seconds, dropping back right in front of the other CEFC Manor TRS Racing #25 driven by Vitaly Petrov. #37 received a black and white warning flag for the contact.
Kamui Kobayashi had taken over the Toyota #7 at the first pitstop and with new tires, he quickly gained back the time that was lost due to the driver and tire change.
After 80 minutes of racing we saw Thomas Flohr in the Spirit of Race Ferrari #54, Weng Sun Mok in the Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61, and Tristan Gommendy in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 having some contacts. #37 dived up the inside of the other two cars, resulting in #54 spinning off. All three got going again, but the passenger door of #54 blew off on the straight, though thankfully way off the racing surface. He made it back to the pits, but the damage to the car was too great to be able to be repaired, so they had to retire the car.
The race fell into a rhythm without further drama during the second hour, until Ben Hanley in the CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24 hit Ho-Pin Tung in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38, after the latter had just overtaken the #24. Both cars could continue with only light damage to both cars. The contact ended up giving #24 a 5-seconds pit stop penalty.
Neel Jani in the Porsche #1 made a contact with Kamui Kobayashi in the Toyota #7, when Jani tried to get back on the lead lap, following the problems earlier in the race. The only thing happening was the #1 going into a big long slide around Turn 1 but was able to continue.
After two hours and 10 minutes of the race, Michael Christensen swapped back to Kevin Estre in #92 from the lead in GTE Pro.
Pedro Lamy kept the lead in the AMR #98 in the GTE Am category, followed by Ben Barker in the Gulf Racing UK Porsche #86 in second, and Weng Sun Mok in the Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61 third.
Julien Canal in the Vaillante Rebellion #31 had a 50-seconds lead over Leo Roussel in the G-Drive Racing #26, and Mathias Beche in the Vaillante Rebellion #13.
Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 got an issue with the left door, which wasn’t locked. It was sorted shortly afterwards during a pitstop, where the door was slammed a bit harder.
There was drama on the track again after 2 hours and 20 minutes, when Kevin Estre had to park the Porsche #92 in Turn One. There wasn’t any smoke or any other visual signs of the problem – he just didn’t accelerate out of the final corner. Therefore the leading GTE Pro car was out of the race, and the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 took the lead. The Porsche team later reported it as an engine failure.
A Full Course Yellow was needed to remove #92 safely. A lot of teams used that opportunity to take a pitstop and hence lost less time than doing it under full racing speed.
Porsche #91 had grabbed the lead GTE Pro, but was being reeled in by both Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK cars. Fred Makowiecki did all he could to keep Olivier Pla and Andy Priaulx behind.
CEFC Manor TRS Racing #24 driver Ben Hanley made a mistake and outbraked himself from P4. When he rejoined the track, he hit Jonny Adam in the Aston Martin Racing #97, sending the AMR into a spin. That gave the #24 a 10-seconds Stop & Go penalty.
Halfway through the race, Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 was leading the LMP1 category, Vaillante Rebellion #31 in LMP2, Porsche #91 in GTE Pro and AMR #98 led GTE Am.
Local hero and Championship leader Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 made it back out in front of the LMP2 category, after everybody having done their 4th stop. Oliver Jarvis was by far the quickest driver in LMP2 at that point, pulling away from Nico Prost in #31 in P2.
After the 4th pitstop of Toyota #8 and #7, the #8 could regain the lead of the race, even though they had made one driver and tire change more. Nakajima in #8 quickly pulled away from #7, which was partly down to newer tires.
David Heinemeier Hansson in Vaillante Rebellion #13 had a very close fight with DTM driver Nico Müller in the G-Drive Racing #26, with the two battling over 4th in LMP2. The Dane defended hard but fair, and the young Swiss driver couldn’t find any way past.
David Cheng in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 tried to fend off Jean-Eric Vergne in the CEFC Manor TRS #24. Cheng came a bit too deep into the corner, and when he tried to get back on the ideal line, the two cars collided. It took a few seconds before they had sorted themselves out and got running again, and the contact resulted in a Drive Through penalty for #37.
3 hours and 37 minutes into the race, the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 took the lead of the GTE Pro category, while Porsche #91 initially could stay in front of Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66. It didn’t last long before the #66 was right up the rear wing of #91, and within 10 minutes of losing the lead, Makowiecki had to give up second place to Mücke.
4 hours into the race, the Porsche #2 was lapped by the leading Toyota #8. Porsche just didn’t have the pace and was running between 1-2 seconds a lap slower than Toyota.
After one and a half stints of intense battling, Nico Müller in the G-Drive Racing #26 made it past David Heinemeier Hansson in the Vaillante Rebellion #13 – but not without the two cars being side by side through several corners, and going three wide with the AMR #98 through Turn One. But it was a very impressive driving by the Gentleman driver.
With 90 minutes left on the clock, there was a contact between Nico Müller in the G-Drive Racing #26 and Ho-Pin Tung in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 going into turn one. Tung tried to dive on the inside of Müller, but the door was well and truly shot, and both cars ended up spinning off at quite high speed. While Tung could continue, Müller received a puncture on his right rear wheel, having to limp home for a whole lap at slow speed. The Race Stewards awarded #26 a 10-seconds pitstop penalty for the contact.
All of a sudden we had a Vaillante Rebellion 1-2 lead in the LMP2 category with #31 ahead of #13, with #38 in third.
Roman Rusinov had taken over the #26, but flatspotted all of his new tires on the very first lap, going onto the start-finish straight.
Olivier Pla in the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 and Richard Lietz in the Porsche #91 started battling over second in the GTE Pro, with the latter getting back into the fight. The positions changed when the TDS Racing #28 lapped both cars. Matthieu Vaxiviere in the #28 didn’t do anything wrong, but he just left a gap that the #91 dived into.
Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 was leading LMP1 going into the final hour of the race, while Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 was leading LMP2 on the track, but having to do one more stop before the end of the Vaillante Rebellion #31. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 led GTE Pro, while AMR #98 had a comfortable GTE Am lead.
Lietz in #91 started attacking Tincknell in the #67, for the lead of GTE Pro. #91 was however going to need a longer fuel stop to get to the finish, so it was still very open at that point of the race. At the same time, Olivier Pla in #66 and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the AF Corse Ferrari #51 were battling over third position in class. The Ferrari managed to sneak past, while the Porsche still wasn’t able to take the lead.
The race took a big dramatic turn with 38 minutes left. Jose Maria Lopez in the Toyota #7 hit the Porsche #91. The rear suspension of #7 broke by the impact and #91 got a puncture. #7 needed to be pushed into the garage and with a 13-minutes repair time, all chances of a Toyota 1-2 were gone. On top of that, #7 received a 10 seconds pitstop penalty for hitting #91.
#67 entered the pits for one final time with 25 minutes remaining, to get refuelled and 4 other tires for the car. He exited the pits only 5 seconds ahead of Porsche #91, in a real battle for the GTE Pro win, but was able to stretch the lead going to the chequered flag.
Marco Sørensen in the AMR #95 was in a close battle with Davide Rigon in the AF Corse Ferrari #71 regarding 5th in GTE Pro. The speed of both Aston Martin Racing cars had dropped a lot since the Pole Position yesterday.
Nelson Piquet Jr in the Vaillante Rebellion #13 put Ho-Pin Tung in the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 under a lot of pressure, in the fight for third. The two cars were separated by only a few metes for many laps, before Piquet Jr eventually made it past Tung, with ten minutes to go, and the Chinese driver didn’t have the tires underneath him any more.
After 6 hours of racing, Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 with Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima crossed the line first, ahead of Porsche #2 and Porsche #1.
The LMP2 category saw a win for Vaillante Rebellion #31 with Bruno Senna, Julien Canal, and Nico Prost, ahead of Signatech Alpine Matmut #36, and Vaillante Rebellion #13 in third.
In the GTE Pro we had Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 driven by Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx winning, ahead of Porsche #91 and AF Corse #51. Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim in the AMR #95 where the best placed Aston in 5th.
Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, and Mathias Lauda in AMR #98 won the GTE Am, ahead of Gulf Racing UK Porsche #86, and Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77.
The race from today means that Porsche has won the Constructors Championship in LMP1, as well as Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber, and Timo Bernhard won the World Endurance Drivers Championship 2017. Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi sit second, with Anthony Davidson sitting a lonely third, after not being part of the line-up at COTA. All these positions are locked in, since Porsche #1 drivers can’t surpass the #8 crew after this weekend’s points.
Vaillante Rebellion #31 leads the LMP2 standings, ahead of Jackie Chan DC Racing #38, and Signatech Alpine Matmut #36. All three still have a chance of winning the title, with just 4 points between #31 and #38.
The GTE Pro is led by AF Corse #51, ahead of Porsche #91, and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67. #51, #91 and #67 are separated by only 7,5 points between the three cars.
Ferrari won the FIA GT World Endurance Manufacturers Championship title by today’s performance.
AMR #98 is back in the lead of the GTE Am Championship, leading Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77, and Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61. All three still have short of winning the title.
The Championships will be decided in 14 days, when the 9th and final round of this years FIA World Endurance Championship will be run in Bahrain on 18 November.