FIA WEC Shanghai 6 Hours Resources
LMP1 – Porsche take both titles
Porsche are the 2017 FIA World Endurance Champions, claiming both the Drivers and Manufacturers titles in Shanghai. Whilst the Drivers Championship was looking comfortable, late race drama for the #7 Toyota handed the Manufacturers title to Porsche with 1 race remaining.
The #8 Toyota of Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima crossed the line to take the victory, but the #7 wasn’t there to follow their team mates home. Touring Car Champion, Jose Maria Lopez showed his lack of multi-class racing experience, making contact with the #26 G-Drive car and spinning itself out. Whilst recovering Lopez got run off the road by a Ford on the exit of the long turn 13. The incidents dropped the car from the lead to third on the road, but no serious damage was done. During his second stint Lopez made heavy contact with the #91 Porsche, which was battling for the GTE-Pro lead, causing rear suspension damage. The #7 returned to the race after a 13 minute stop, but it wasn’t enough for Toyota’s title challenge. Due to his speed, we often forget Lopez is still a WEC rookie – if he can round off the rough edges, he’ll be a future star.
Toyota hid their true performance well on the run up to the race, but that changed come the green flag. Despite some early hiccups for the #7 Toyota, it only took 35 minutes for Toyota to be 1-2 on track, and the gap never stopped growing. The TS050 handled the high tyre wear better than the Porsche 919, increasing Toyota’s advantage as the race progressed. The advantage was so significant that both Porsches were a lap down 4 hours in.
But for Porsche, winning the race wasn’t the concern – it was the championship they were aiming for. The surprise hiccup for Porsche was surprising reliability problems for the #1 car. Throttle problems contributed to multiple small off-track moments and the car losing power down the back straight. An on-track reset brought the car back to life, costing the car almost a full lap. The #1 cruised home in third, behind the championship winning #2.
The result means that the WEC flies to China with the LMP1 titles already decided. Like Audi before them, Porsche will want to finish on a high before embarking on the all-electric future that replaces the LMP1 program.
LMP2 – Rebellion win dramatic LMP2 race
#31 Rebellion Racing won an eventful LMP2 race, taking the lead in the standings for the first time since Spa. A superb opening stint by Bruno Senna gave silver driver Julian Canal a 45 second buffer over the chasing pack. Senna returned to the car with around 90 minutes remaining and continued where he left off, giving the car a 35 second advantage at the line.
As chaos unfolded around them, the #36 Signatech Alpine had a quiet and uneventful race on the way to second. The final spot of the podium could’ve went to any one of the rest of the LMP2 field, but it was the #13 Rebellion that rounded off the podium. Amateur driver David Heinemeier Hansson put in an incredible couple of stints, holding off higher rated professional drivers.
Local heroes, Jackie Chan DC Racing had a rougher time of it. The #37 was involved in incidents with the #24 Manor and 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari. The championship leading #38 played the long game, burning the silver driver time early in the race, aiming to finish strongly. But like the #37, the race was far from clean.
The Mighty 38 was collected by the #24 Manor, costing some time. Oliver Jarvis set about fixing the damage, putting down stints as good as Sennas. Unfortunately for the Jota run team, the #38 made heavy contact with the #26 G-Drive car in turn 1. Opinions are divided on who was at fault, but race controlled laid the blame firmly at the feet of the G-Drive car, penalising them 10 seconds.
The result moves Rebellion to the head of the LMP2 standings with a slim 4 point lead over #38 Jackie Chan DC car. Signatech can mathematically win the title, but with 23 points to make up they require the #31 and #38 to not score. In Bahrain, the title will come down to whoever finishes ahead – Rebellion, or Jackie Chan DC Racing.
GTE Pro – Ford win, damage recovery for Ferrari
The #67 Ford took a hard fought GTE Pro win, ahead of the #91 Porsche in second and the #51 Ferrari in third. GTE Pro provided drama down to the wire, as the lead battle between the #67 and #91 was rudely interrupted by the #7 Toyota, lumbering the Porsche with a puncture. Remarkably, the #91 lost no positions whilst recovering to the pits and managed to retain second place.
Ferrari were in damage control mode from the green flag. The Ferrari 488 clearly never had the pace to challenge the Fords and Porsches. Given the extreme tyre wear of the circuit, Ferrari opted to conserve tyres early in the race and come back at the end. The strategy worked and as problems came for other runners, the Ferraris slowly crept up the order. The #51 took the final spot on the podium, limiting the damage to their points lead.
The recovery means that the #51 retains the drivers championship lead, but it all tightens up heading to Bahrain. The #51 leads the #91 Porsche by 13 points, with the #67 Ford 15 points off the top. The advantage certainly sits with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, but anything can happen in GT racing. However Ferrari have clinched the Manufacturers Title with a race to go, holding a healthy 48.5 point lead over Ford.
GTE Am – Aston Martin to the front
Aston Martin Racing won the GTE Am race, assisted by incidents for the Ferrari runners. The #98 crossed the line a minute ahead of the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche, and the #77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche a further 40 seconds back.
If GTE-Pro was a bad day for the Ferraris, it was worse in GTE-Am. The #61 Clearwater car was battling with the #54 Spirit of the Race 488 in turn 1 when the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca made contact with both Ferraris, sending all 3 cars off the road. Whilst the #54 retired, the #61 rejoined the race 6 laps down.
The incident changed the complexion of the GTE-Am title battle and gifts the #98 a 10 lead over the #77 going to Bahrain. The #61 Clearwater Ferrari is a single point behind the Porsche.