Thursday, 3 November 2016

FIA WEC - 6 Hours of Shanghai: weekend preview

After a highly entertaining race in Fuji last month, 31 cars will race in the second to last race of the 2016 FIA WEC season in Shanghai. Only Rebellion Racing already secured their title in the LMP1-L class, in the other classes all is still to play for under the Chinese sun this weekend.  

LMP1


























No  changes in driver line-ups in LMP1, with 8 cars on the grid and the same driver pairings. Shangai is the penultimate race for the Audi R18, and with the Toyota's back in the mix after Fuji, we could be in for another classic endurance race.



Porsche arrives in China with a 59 point lead over Audi in the manufacturers championship. If both Porsche 919's can get onto the podium, the team from Stuttgart can claim their second munfacturers title in a row, even if Audi takes the win in Shangai.



A different game in the driver rankings. Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb are leading the championship with a 23 point bonus over Toyota's #2 crew Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi. The drivers of the Audi #8, Oliver Jarvis, Loic Duval & Lucas Di Grassi are currently third, 28,5 points behind the leaders. Everything is still to play for the drivers honours. 



Rebellion racing already secured their LMP1-L title in Japan last month after another win for the #13 R-One over the ByKolles car which suffered from engine problems again.

LMP2



2 teams are still in the running for the 2016 FIA WEC title in the second prototype class. Alpine is leading the class in the #36 of Gustavo Menezes, Nicolas Lapierre and Stephane Richelmi. They have an advantage of 35 points over the #43 RGR Sport Ligier of Ricardo Gonzalez & Bruno Senna. The Alpine needs to finish third to secure the championship, even if RGR wins and takes pole position. RGR has to set its hopes on a poor run for Alpine this weekend, as this will be the only way to take the title fight on to Bahrain.


Will Stevens returns to G-Drive Racing this weekend, filling in again for Rene Rast who just became father of a son, Liam James. Rast will be back in the cockpit of the Oreca05/Nissan at the final race in Bahrain later this month. G-Drive is out of contention for the title, but will be eager to win again after their first win of the season in Fuji and end the season on a high.



No Strakka Racing in the final 2 races of the season, the team forced to draw back from China and Bahrain due to engine issues. The engine problem they had in Japan is the fourth one the team suffered from since last years rookie test and left the team without spare units for the final rounds. Replacing the engine again in China would result in a 3 minute stop-and-go penalty in Bahrain, preventing any chance to be competitive. As it was also almost impossible to get a new engine on time in China, the team has decided not to race anymore in 2016. Their plans for 2017 should be revealed by the end of November. 

With the Gibson 015S missing Shangai, the race in Fuji was the last one of an open top prototype in the WEC. The Gibson especially has made his marks in the past five seasons, remaining competitive with all new LMP2's, fighting for a podium place in WEC and victory in ELMS. Winning the ELMS finale and championship 2 weeks ago in Portugal was a more than appropriate goodbye for an iconic car.

Manor is back with its 2 Oreca05/Nissan's again but with a few changes in their driver line-up. The #44 will be driven again by Matt Rao and Richard Bradley, who will be joined by Alex Lynn in Shangai. Tor Graves is at the wheel of the #45, sharing driving duties with Roberto Gonzalez and Mathias Beche. This means Roberto Merhi stays behind without a seat in any of the Manor cars. 



Another driver change is to be noted in the #30 ESM car. Tom Blomqvist replaces newly crowned ELMS champion Giedo van der Garde in the Ligier. In the second Alpine of Baxi DC Racing and both SMP BR01/Nissan's no changes have to be expected compared to Fuji last month. 

LM GTE Pro


In the GTE Pro class, the fight for the championship is still wide open with Ferrari, Ford and Aston Martin still able to clinch the title. AF Corse has the lead in the championship with 236 points, just 3 points ahead of Aston Martin Racing. Ford has scored 177,5 points so far putting them in third place but already 58,5 points behind.



Ford dominated the race in Fuji but will be too far away to play a role for the championship, unless Aston Martin and Ferrari have 2 disastrous races to come. Between Ferrari and Aston Martin it's still all to play for. One bad result in the final 2 races of the season might blow their chances to win the title.



Nicky Thiim and Marco Sorensen lead the drivers table with 119 points, an advantage of 10 points to Sam Bird and Davide Rigon in the #71 Ferrari and 15 points over Darren Turner. Gianmaria Bruno & James Calado have scored 95 points so far.

LM GTE-Am



The fight for the title in the GTE-Am is down to two or three cars. François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas lead the championship in the #83 AF Corse Ferrari with 155 points after the race in Fuji. They have a 33 point lead over the #98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. Mathematically, the #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche of Khaled Ai Qubaisi, David Heinemeir Hanson and Patrick Long also has a chance to take the title, but they are already 41 points behind. To win the championship both other contenders must hit severe trouble in the 2 final races of the season.



If the #83 takes pole position and finishes second, the 2016 title is theirs. Even if the Aston Martin wins the race. If the Aston doesn't win the race, finishing 4th will be enough for the AF Corse team to clinch the title.

The #50 Larbre Corvette has the only driver change in the class, Romain Brandela replacing Yutaka Yamagishi.

Free Practice will start on Friday 11h local time in China.

Useful links :

Entry List
Timetable
Spotterguide
Event Map

Kristof Vermeulen.

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