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WEC - Porsche Secure FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship Title in Shanghai Thriller


WEC -  2016 6 Hours of Shangai - Race Report

FIA, Motorsport, Mobility, Road Safety, F1, WRC, WEC, WTCC, World RX
  • The 6 Hours of Shanghai was the 4th victory of 2016 for Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard in the no1 Porsche 919 Hybrid.  Toyota finished 2nd and 3rd in China.
  • The no2 Porsche 919 finished 4th behind the second placed no6 Toyota meaning the 2016 FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship will be decided at the last race in Bahrain.
  • Signatech Alpine secured the 2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Team and Drivers after finishing 4th behind the victorious no26 G Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan in the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
  • Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK secure their second WEC LMGTE Pro win in a row for the US manufacturer.  The FIA World Cup for GT Manufacturers and Drivers will be decided in Bahrain in two weeks.
  • The no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage takes fifth win of the season to take the fight for the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am Teams and Drivers to the final race of 2016.

A large 55,000 strong Chinese crowd witnessed Porsche securing their second FIA World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship in a row after a win for the no1 Porsche and a 4th place for the no2 919 Hybrid gave them an unassailable 79 point lead over Audi and Toyota. 

Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard secured their fourth win of the season from pole position, only losing the lead briefing on the opening lap and during the regular pitstops for the entire six hours of racing.

There was drama at the first corner of the race when the no5 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 of Sebastien Buemi went past the pole position holder Brendon Hartley in the no1 Porsche on the run into the corner.  The Swiss driver was able to hold onto the lead briefly before Hartley went ahead once again during the run down the back straight and just before the Safety Car was deployed.  

The no45 Manor Oreca-Nissan of Mathias Beche had spun on its own and collected the no97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Richie Stanaway, stranding the Manor run Oreca in the middle of the track and spreading debris across the circuit.  Stanaway recovered his car to the pits but the damage was beyond repair and the 31 car field was reduced to 29 in just a few minutes.

When the race resumed Hartley pulled away from the Toyota as Buemi came under pressure from Lucas di Grassi, the Brazilian moving ahead of his rival at the hairpin.  The no86 Gulf Racing Porsche of Ben Barker had taken the lead of the LMGTE Am class on the opening lap but his start was judged to have been too good and the stewards awarded the British driver a drive through penalty.  The no71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon had pitted under the safety car to replace a left rear tyre that had lost pressure but the AF Corse crew had refuelled the car as well, which wasn’t permitted and the Italian had to pit again to ensure the stewards didn’t give the team a more severe penalty.

In LMP2 Alex Brundle had moved up the field from 4th on the grid to take the lead after 25 minutes of racing, a lead the Anglo-Russian team wouldn’t lose for the rest of the afternoon. The no44 Manor Oreca, which had started from pole position, was forced into the pits with bodywork damage and a bent trackrod after contact with the no27 SMP Racing BR01, dropping the car down four laps by the time the team got the car back out.

Meanwhile at the front of the field the no1 Porsche was three seconds ahead of the no8 Audi with Hartley slowly pulling away.  At the first pitstop Audi had their first of many problems when the fuel rig failed to give Di Grassi’s R18 a full tank of fuel meaning the Brazilian had to pit a lot earlier than planned.  Audi’s woes continued later in the race when the no7 and the no8 cars collided later in the race damaging the no7 air jack system and forcing the team to carry out repairs in the garage for around 20 minutes.

In LMGTE Pro the two Ford GTs were leading the way with the no67 Ford of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx hardly missing a beat for the entire race.  Priaulx smashed the existing lap record by 1.5 seconds during the race.  The no51 AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado took the fight to the Fords and held second position for a lot of the race.  The no95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim tried to uphold the honour of the British manufacturer after the early exit of the no97 Vantage but the Danes were unable to get on terms with the faster Fords.

While the Pro class Aston Martin was struggling the no98 Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda was fairly romping away in the LMGTE Am battle while their rivals in the no83 AF Corse Ferrari and the no78 KCMG Porsche squabbled over the minor podium places.  Championship leader Rui Aguas was heading this battle in the no83 Ferrari and looked on course for the important 18 points when a clash on the last lap at the penultimate corner with the no43 RGR Sport Ligier and the no78 KCMG Porsche saw the Ferrari cross the line in third. However the positions were reversed after the race as the Stewards decided that the no78 Porsche had gained an unfair advantage.

The no1 Porsche now looked set to take the victory in China but the no2 Porsche had dropped back behind the two Toyotas.  The no5 TS050 driven by Anthony Davidson was ahead of the no6 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, but the British driver let his faster teammate past as the no6 crew were the only ones who had a chance of snatching the 2016 Drivers’ crown away from the no2 Porsche crew of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb, with Jani lying in 4th.

The chequered flag came out as the clock hit six hours and the Porsche team lined the wall to celebrate another victory for the no1 car but also the German manufacturers second World Endurance Manufacturers title in a row. 

The Drivers’ Championship will be a straight fight in the final race of the season between the no2 Porsche crew of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb and the no6 Toyota crew of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Stephane Sarrazin, with the Porsche trio on 152 points to 135 points for the Toyota crew.

A 1-2 for Ford in the LMGTE Pro class means the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers is wide open with Ferrari holding a 10 point advantage over Aston Martin.  Aston Martin drvers Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen now hold a 12 point advantage over Ferrari’s Davide Rigon and Sam Bird, with Ford’s Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke and Ferrari’s Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado 21 point behind the leading pair and still with a mathematical shot at the GT World Cup for Drivers.

The no83 AF Corse Ferrari trio of Emmanuel Collard, Francois Perrodo and Rui Aguas head into the final race of 2016 with 173 points in the LMGTE Am class, 25 points ahead of the no98 Aston Martin Racing crew of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy.

The final race of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship will take place in Bahrain on Saturday 19 November.  The 6 Hours of Bahrain will decide the destination of the remaining six titles that are yet to be decided.