Shanghai WEC: Porsche wins, Toyota keeps title race alive

Porsche secured its fourth FIA World Endurance Championship win in five races in the 6 Hours of Shanghai, but a second place for Toyota ensured the race for the drivers' title goes to the final race in Bahrain.

Shanghai WEC: Porsche wins, Toyota keeps title race alive

Starting from pole, the #1 crew of Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard were never truly challenged, the trio sealing victory by a minute and clinching Porsche the manufacturers' title to boot.

But a fourth-place finish for the sister #2 car of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb behind both Toyotas means that the #6 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin head to Bahrain with an outside shot at the drivers' title.

The #2 car was in position to potentially take the title prior to half-distance, as it ran second behind the #1 car with Lieb at the wheel, until Kobayashi passed the German for second.

Toyota then seemed on course for an easy second place before the #6 machine had to make not one but two unscheduled stops in the penultimate hour, both times as a result of a slow left-rear puncture.

That meant the battle for third between the #2 Porsche and the #5 Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima assumed critical importance, with Buemi swinging the pendulum back in Toyota's favour by going ahead of Jani in the fourth hour.

Quicker pit-work gave the #2 Porsche a temporary reprieve, but Jani was powerless to stop both Toyotas going through in the final hour, after the #6 machine in Kobayashi's hands moved back ahead of the #5 following its spate of punctures.

A fuel-only final stop for Davidson in the #5 cemented third for the Briton and his teammates, who took their first podium finish of a campaign dogged by misfortune, as the #2 crew went a fifth straight race without a top-three finish in fourth, 1m40s behind the victorious #1 car.

Disaster for Audi

In its first race since announcing its impending WEC withdrawal, Audi suffered a nightmare race, with the title hopes of the #8 crew of Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval being extinguished early on by a malfunctioning fuel rig.

That meant the car had to make more pitstops and lost time with each of them, leaving it a distant fifth place at the flag, three laps down on the victors.

The #7 car of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer fared even worse, lacking the pace to fight Porsche and Toyota early on before dropping out of contention completely after a collision between Treluyer and Jarvis in the #8 at the hairpin.

That forced the #7 into the garage for around 20 minutes to repair an airjack, although it recovered to sixth overall ahead of the LMP1-L class-winning #4 ByKolles CLM.

ByKolles' first LMP1 privateer win since last year's Austin race came largely thanks to reliability issues for the #13 Rebellion car, which suffered a water leak in the second hour and then set on fire at the start of the final hour.

Signatech clinches LMP2 title

While the LMP1 title remains up for grabs, Signatech Alpine was able to clinch the LMP2 crown courtesy of a fourth place for the #36 car of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi.

Lapierre took the class lead at the start, although he was passed by a flying Alex Brundle in the #26 G-Drive Oreca towards the end of the opening hour.

From there, the Jota-run car was nigh-on unstoppable, with Roman Rusinov and then Will Stevens pulling out a big advantage to take a second straight win, 1m20s ahead of the #30 ESM Ligier of Antonio Giovinazzi, Sean Gelael and WEC rookie Tom Blomqvist.

The battle for third was between the first two cars in the points, the #36 Signatech Alpine and the #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier, which had earlier earned a drive-through penalty when Bruno Senna punted Menezes into a spin.

Recovering from that setback, Filipe Albuquerque managed to fend off Lapierre in the final hour to take the final step on the podium for the #43 car, but this wasn't enough to keep the title fight alive.

Having taken pole position, the Manor squad endured a wretched race, losing its #45 car at the very first corner after a spin for Mathias Beche, who was then clouted by Richie Stanaway's Aston Martin.

The Swiss driver was out on the spot, while the #44 - started by poleman Alex Lynn - fought in the top four early on before losing several laps due to a spell in the garage to repair a broken trackrod, the result of contact with the #27 SMP car.

Ford unstoppable in GTE

In the GTE-Pro division, Ford converted its front-row lockout into a one-two finish, with the #67 machine of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx taking a second successive class win following their Fuji triumph.

As in Japan, the #66 of Olivier Pla and Stefan Mucke ran the sister car closely at first, but dropped back with a slow puncture in the third hour - putting the duo out of sequence with the rest of their competitors.

But such was the pace of the Ford that the #66 car was able to overhaul the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado and the sole surviving Pro class #95 Aston Martin of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim in the second half of the race to finish second.

A first-lap puncture and a late pitlane infringement penalty meant the second of the Ferraris, the #71 of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird, could no better than fifth in class.

Meanwhile, the #98 Aston Martin crew of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda kept their slim GTE-Am title hopes alive by taking a  dominant fifth win of the season.

The #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and Francois Perrodo, however, remains in command of the standings thanks to a third-place finish, surviving a last-lap tangle with the #78 KCMG Porsche amid a fierce race-long battle for second in class.

UPDATE: A post-race penalty for the #78 KCMG car means it remains on the podium but is moved behind the AF Corse Ferrari in the fight for second. As such, Collard, Aguas and Perrodo strengthen their lead in the standings heading into Bahrain.

Race results

Pos. #DriversCarClassLapsTime
1   1 Mark Webber
Timo Bernhard
Brendon Hartley
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 195  
2   6 Stéphane Sarrazin
Kamui Kobayashi
Mike Conway
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 195 59.785
3   5 Anthony Davidson
Kazuki Nakajima
Sébastien Buemi
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 195 1'06.038
4   2 Romain Dumas
Neel Jani
Marc Lieb
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 195 1'40.855
5   8 Lucas di Grassi
Loic Duval
Oliver Jarvis
Audi R18 LMP1 192 3 laps
6   7 Andre Lotterer
Marcel Fassler
Benoit Tréluyer
Audi R18 LMP1 181 14 laps
7   4 Simon Trummer
Oliver Webb
Pierre Kaffer
CLM P1/01 LMP1 181 9.380
8   26 Will Stevens
Roman Rusinov
Alex Brundle
Oreca 05 LMP2 180 15 laps
9   30 Sean Gelael
Antonio Giovinazzi
Tom Blomqvist
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 179 16 laps
10   43 Bruno Senna
Ricardo Gonzalez
Filipe Albuquerque
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 179 26.158
11   36 Nicolas Lapierre
Gustavo Menezes
Stéphane Richelmi
Alpine A460 LMP2 179 26.667
12   31 Pipo Derani
Ryan Dalziel
Chris Cumming
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 179 57.789
13   27 Maurizio Mediani
Nicolas Minassian
Mikhail Aleshin
BR01 LMP2 177 18 laps
14   37 Vitaly Petrov
Viktor Shaytar
Kirill Ladygin
BR01 LMP2 177 42.713
15   35 Paul-Loup Chatin
Ho-Pin Tung
David Cheng
Alpine A460 LMP2 176 19 laps
16   44 Richard Bradley
Matthew Rao
Alex Lynn
Oreca 05 LMP2 174 21 laps
17   67

Harry Tincknell

 Andy Priaulx

Ford GT LMGTE PRO 170 25 laps
18   66 Stefan Mücke
Olivier Pla
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 170 50.652
19   51 Gianmaria Bruni
James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE PRO 170 1'13.367
20   95 Marco Sorensen
Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE PRO 170 1'38.850
21   71 Sam Bird
Davide Rigon
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE PRO 168 27 laps
22   77 Richard Lietz
Michael Christensen
Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE PRO 168 16.041
23   98 Pedro Lamy
Paul Dalla Lana
Mathias Lauda
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE AM 166 29 laps
24   13 Alexandre Imperatori
Dominik Kraihamer
Matheo Tuscher
Rebellion R-One LMP1 166 40.670
25   83 François Perrodo
Emmanuel Collard
Rui Aguas
Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE AM 166 54.023
26   78 Christian Ried
Wolf Henzler
Joel Camathias
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 166 1'01.837
27   88 David Heinemeier Hansson
Patrick Long
Khaled Al Qubaisi
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 166 1'13.423
28   50 Pierre Ragues
Ricky Taylor
Romain Brandela
Chevrolet Corvette C7-Z06 LMGTE AM 164 31 laps
29   86 Michael Wainwright
Adam Carroll
Ben Barker
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 164 44.462
30   97 Darren Turner
Richie Stanaway
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE PRO 1 194 laps
31   45 Mathias Beche
Tor Graves
Roberto Gonzalez
Oreca 05 LMP2 0 195 laps


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