WEC got "lucky" in "ridiculous" Shanghai conditions - Gavin

The FIA World Endurance Championship was "lucky" there wasn't a major accident in the closing stages of last weekend's rain-soaked Shanghai race, believes Corvette driver Oliver Gavin.

WEC got "lucky" in "ridiculous" Shanghai conditions - Gavin

Poor weather on Sunday made the Chinese round of the 2018/19 WEC superseason a stop-start affair, with persistent rainfall prompting two lengthy red flag periods in the opening portion of the race.

Conditions improved to allow serious green-flag running to commence after that, but there was more rain in the final hour, around the same time that dusk was starting to fall on the Shanghai track.

The safety car was called with 20 minutes remaining when the #17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 of Matevos Isaakyan crashed, but racing resumed for a final six minutes after that - by which time the track was virtually dark.

Gavin, who shared the one-off Corvette GTE Pro entry with Tommy Milner and finished eighth in class, said afterwards he felt resuming the race in such poor conditions was not the right call.

"The conditions at the end were just ridiculous," Gavin told Motorsport.com.

"To be racing around a track in the dark that is not set up for the dark, in rain, and with the way with the big rainlights work now, all you can see is bright red mist.

"The last five laps were absolutely treacherous. We were all struggling to get the tyres warmed up again, and a lot of us were on tyres that were appropriate for the conditions an hour earlier, and then it started to rain harder.

"We’d seen earlier in the race when people got cold tyres, they crashed. So I think the series was very lucky there was not a big accident at the end of the race."

Read Also:

Gavin pointed out matters were made worse by the fact that the Shanghai circuit is not set up for night racing, and there were no practice sessions scheduled earlier in the weekend at a similar time.

He explained: "Every track [where there is night racing] we go to now is set up with a certain amount of reflective tape on the side of the road. There’s a bit of guidance there – those keys and cues you need to race around a track at night.

"We also have night [practice] sessions. There were no night sessions here. The series has to think about how they run this race here.

"With the weather conditions as they were, was it wise to take the last restart?

"They could have finished behind the safety car. It risked an awful lot and it surprised me a lot, because this series is generally very safety-conscious, almost too far that way sometimes."

The red flag period

The red flag period

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

Some drivers also questioned the decisions made by race control earlier in the day, as numerous cars suffered offs even behind the safety car due to aquaplaning.

DragonSpeed LMP1 driver Renger van der Zande described the conditions at the first restart as "unbelievable".

The Dutchman said: "Even under the safety car, you’re not pushing, the brakes are cold, the tyres are cold, there were some puddles on the track. So even behind the safety car it was easy to go off.

"When they went green [the first time], I didn’t expect that all, and they called it only five corners before the start/finish – so you only had five corners to warm up the tyres, warm up the brakes and go racing.

"When there was traffic you could see literally nothing; you were just driving on the lights of the car in front of you. No braking markers you could see or anything. It was really unbelievably wet."

ByKolles driver Tom Dillmann added: "It was a bit risky to make us drive behind the safety car. You saw a few cars crashing behind the safety car, it was not ideal.

"I think we could have waited a bit longer [to restart the race]. It cost a few teams with a few destroyed cars. It was not the best decision."

Motorsport.com has reached out to a WEC spokesperson for comment.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez

Photo by: Toyota Racing

 

shares
comments
Alonso planning "many more" races in 2019
Previous article

Alonso planning "many more" races in 2019

Next article

Jani baffled by Alonso's LMP1 privateer comments

Jani baffled by Alonso's LMP1 privateer comments
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Prime

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive FIA World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Motorsport.com recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
Nov 28, 2021
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Prime

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained.

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Prime

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out.

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021