In a dominant performance by Toyota the #8 TS050 of Anthony Davidson, Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took the overall win in today’s 6 Hours of Shanghai by a lap over the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley. Despite the Toyota win, second place was comfortably enough for the #2 Porsche trio to seal the World Endurance Driver’s Championship giving them an unassailable 190 points.
“It’s an awesome feeling” Hartley said at the end of the race, “Not the best race for us but we will celebrate anyway and I will remember this forever”.
Today’s Championship title gives the trio their ‘endurance double’ being crowned both Le Mans and World Champions in a single season.
Until the final 40 minutes of the race it looked as if Toyota were on course for a 1-2 finish which would have pushed the race for the Manufacturer’s World Championship title to the final round in Bahrain in two weeks time, however, in his second incident of the day, while leading the race, Jose Maria Lopez hit the #91 Porsche 911 RSR GTE of Richard Lietz, damaging the front & rear suspension of the #7 Toyota which required a 13 minute tip to the pits to rectify, ending Toyota’s chances of a double podium win and handing the Manufacturers LMP1 Championship crown to Porsche. Lietz’s 911 fared slightly better from the incident and required just the two right side tyres replacing, however, the collision ended his hunt for Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford GT, resigning the Austrian to second place in class. Although scant consolation to the Porsche GTE team, Lopez received a 10 second penalty for the incident which was added to his overall time.
Rounding out the podium in Shanghai was the No.1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy. Their race was compromised in the first hour when Tandy slowed with a throttle sensor issue.
In the LMP2 class China provided us with arguably one of the best races of the season. The class was eventually won by the #31 Vaillante Rebellion squad of Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal battled for the win.
In a race packed full of incident and excitement, Brazilian driver Senna laid the foundations for the team’s eventual win taking him and Canal to the lead of the LMP2 championship by four points (Prost having missed a race earlier in the year). Their chief rivals during the race were the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing trio of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent. The three-time category winners had seemed to have built a race-winning platform after a stellar double stint from Jarvis, but then a fraught final two hours saw a collision between their Oraca 07 and the #26 G-Drive Racing car. Damage to the front of their car meant they eventually finished off the podium in fourth position.
Runners-up in the LMP2 category were the Signatech Alpine crew of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and André Negrão; today’s result keeping Menezes in outside contention for the LMP2 Drivers’ crown.
Making it two Vaillante Rebellion entries in the top three was the #13 car of Nelson Piquet Jr, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Mathias Beche. They recovered from contact on the opening lap to score their second podium position of the season, with Dane Heinemeier Hansson arguably being crowned ‘driver of the day’ as he defended throughout his stint against factory Audi DTM driver Nico Müller in the #26 G-Drive Oreca.
In the GTE ranks, Ford scored a hard-fought victory as Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell claimed their second LMGTE Pro win of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season for their #67 Ford Ganassi Team UK Ford GT
The win for Ford’s ‘Britpack’ car thrust the British duo thrust back into contention for the FIA GT World Endurance Championship Driver’s title with 127,5 points.
The win came after Tincknell performed a heroic rear-guard action when he came under intense pressure from the #91 Porsche in the fifth hour. When Lietz’s 911 RSR was hit by the #7 Toyota, driven at the time by José Maria Lopez, it freed up Tincknell and he brought the car home to claim the maximum points haul.
Second spot on the podium went to the #91 Porsche 911 RSR of Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz who now lie second in the driver’s championship with third place going to the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi. The final spot on the podium coupled with the 6th place finish for the #71 car was enough to give the Italian manufacturer the FIA GT Manufacturer’s Title one race before the final round.
In the GTE AM category, Aston Martin turned its pole position into their 50th class win with the #98 V8 Vantage GTE of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda taking the chequered flag a lap ahead of the #86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche 911 of Khaled Al Qubaisi, Ben Barker and Nicholas Foster. The final spot on the podium went to the #77 Dempsey – Proton Racing Porsche. In a somewhat bizarre twist at the end of the day the winning #98 Aston Martin appeard to catch fire in winners’ area!