WEC: Porsche Clinches Titles In China
The penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship took place in China, where Porsche clinched the drivers’ world championship title as well as the one for manufacturers. The six-hour race of Shanghai saw the No1 919 Hybrid start in second, and the sister car, No2, start fourth. On his 33rd birthday, Nick Tandy started the No1 entry, quickly becoming involved in a battle with both Toyotas. Tandy successfully defended second position until a sensor issue dropped him back on lap 19. Earl Bamber managed to improve to third position at the start of the race, but the number 8 Toyota got ahead before he regained the spot when the other Porsche had its technical issue.
Though Tandy received instructions via radio on how to activate the backup solution to his car’s running issue, it dropped to fourth position due to the time lost, running one minute and 15 seconds behind the third placed sister Porsche. Tandy stopped to refuel after 31 laps, one lap after the sister car, and the two mirrored each other’s strategies again stopping for fuel on lap 60 and 61. By the time Neel Jani got behind the wheel of the No1 car, it was now one lap down from the leading Toyota. With 75 laps completed, Jani used a full course yellow to fill up again, on lap 91 he was lapped by the No7 Toyota. The No2 car also refuelled at the same intervals, but just three laps after the full course yellow period Brendon Hartley was forced off the track by a LMP2 car. There was contact but no major damage.
For Porsche the race stayed largely static from there, in fact it took an unscheduled pit stop for the No7 Toyota, which required repairs after a collision with the No.91 911 RSR, to change the running order. Timo Bernhard was promoted to P2 in the No1 Porsche, Lotterer moved up to third in the No2 919. Thanks to the Toyota’s misfortune, the points earned by Porsche were enough for it to wrap-up the manufacturers’ trophy for the third consecutive time, and for Bamber, Bernhard and Hartley to be crowned as WEC’s new LMP world champions.
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal, said: “Congratulations also to Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley for the drivers’ championship. For sure it’s a sensational story to win all these titles and races three years in a row. At the same time, it was a big relief today not just for me but for the entire team that we could seal the two championships with one race remaining. It was not an easy situation in recent months, especially after the announcement was made to stop after this season.’
Earl Bamber, said: “World Champion! It just sounds amazing. The team was fighting hard for it all year and now we grab the manufacturers and drivers world championship… This weekend is super special. I can hardly believe that I won my first championship with Porsche back in 2013, only four years ago.”
Eighth podium For RSR
Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki were very close to clinching their first GTE-Pro class world championship victory in China. Driving the No91 911 RSR, the pair endured a difficult qualifying which saw them start from the seventh spot on the grid. However, putting in a string of quick lap times the team fought its way to the front, after about an hour the car was running in third place. Up to that point teammates Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre were leading the race, but that was soon set to change when an engine issue ended their race, forcing the car to pull over at the end of the start-finish straight.
Makowiecki and Lietz soon took over the lead where the car stayed for almost an hour before making a pit stop. With approximately 90 minutes to go, the No91 RSR moved into third place then, in a spectacular overtaking manoeuvre, snatched second place. A battle ensued between the Porsche and the best placed Ford, with 35 minutes to go a collision with a Toyota prototype resulted in the Porsche loosing 15 seconds to the leader. The damaged 911 managed to salvage second place.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars, said: “The fight for the world championship remains gripping. Today we managed to narrow the small gap to two points. Hopefully in Bahrain we’ll finally be able to bring home our long overdue maiden world championship win for our new 911 RSR. In the GTE-Pro class it was even closer than usual today. It’s a shame that the incident with the Toyota cost us decisive seconds as well as the chance to be even closer and perhaps even score a victory. The title race in the GTE-Am class is still open.”
The gap in the GT Drivers World Championship has now been narrowed to just two points ahead of the final race in Bahrain on 18 November.
|1. Nakajima / Buemi / Davidson||Toyota TS050||195 laps|
|2. Bernhard / Bamber / Hartley||919 Hybrid||194 laps|
|3. Jani / Lotterer / Tandy||919 Hybrid||194 laps|
|1. Priaulx / Tincknell||Ford GT||170 laps|
|2. Lietz / Makowiecki||911 RSR||170 laps|
|3.Calado / Pier Guidi||Ferrari 488 GTE||170 laps|
|8. Christensen/Estre||911 RSR||65 laps|
|1. Bernhard / Hartley / Bamber||919 Hybrid||190 points|
|2. Nakajima / Buemi||Toyota TS050||158 points|
|3. Davidson||Toyota TS050||143 points|
|4. Jani / Lotterer / Tandy||919 Hybrid||113 points|
|1. Porsche||303 points|
|2. Toyota||249.5 points|
|1. Calado / Guidi||Ferrari 488 GTE||135 points|
|2. Lietz / Makowieck||911 RSR||133 points|
|3. Priaulx / Tincknell||Ford GT||127.5 points|
|11. Estre / Christensen||911 RSR||67 points|
|1. Ferrari||261 points|
|2. Ford||212.5 points|
|3. Porsche||211 points|