Thursday 15 November 2018

FIA WEC: 35 cars for the 6 Hours of Shanghai

35 cars will be on the grid this Sunday for the final race of the FIA World Endurance Championship of 2018.  After the 6 Hours of Shanghai, the season will restart in Sebring mid March.  A nice addition to the grid in LMGTE Pro is the #64 Corvette, which makes its return in the class for the first time since 2014.  Will Toyota keep on dominating in China, or will the privateers close the gap after a few more adjustments in the EoT ? 

© Toyota Gazoo Racing

Toyota arrives in China with a comfortable lead in the championship.  After finishing second at Fuji last month, Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso have collected 84 points in 4 races with their #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid. The #7 sister car of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez is second, with a total of 71 points so far. 

© Rebellion Racing/MPS Agency

After crashing out of the 6 Hours of Fuji, the #3 Rebellion R13 of Gustavo Menezes, Mathias Beche and Thomas Laurent now has to make up 21 points to the leading Toyota.  The #1 Rebellion lays fourth in the championship with 63 points.  After an encouraging race in Fuji, with a fourth place finish, SMP Racing might be at the heels of Rebellion this weekend. The AER powered BR1’s are becoming faster and more reliable every race.  Dragonspeed struggled with their BR1 in Fuji last month, with another DNF as a result. They will also be out for a good result in Shanghai, with Renger Van der Zande returning after having to miss out Fuji due to clashing with Petit Le Mans. James Rossiter in the #4 ByKolles is also in for his second race of the season, joining Oliver Webb and Tom Dillman in the ENSO CLMP1/01.

There’s no sign of Ginetta anymore on the entry list and the question remains whether we will see their LMP1 back in the championship next year in Sebring. Although the team claims the car to be ready to race with the new AER engine since Silverstone, they haven’t return to the championship.  

There has been a new EOT adjustment ahead of this weekends race for the non hybrid teams, whether this well decrease the gap between the Toyota’s and the competition still has to be seen.  After the adjustments for the Fuji race, the gap was still up to four laps by the end of the race. 


© FIA WEC/Joao Felipe - Adrenal Media

In LMP2 all eyes will be on the Jackie Chan DC Racing team for which the 6 hours of Shanghai is their home race.  After two 1-2 finishes in Silverstone and Fuji, they seem to be the team to beat in this stage of the championship. Both Oreca’s have scored 86 points so far, putting then on a shared second place in the championship. Gabriel Aubry, Ho-Pin Tung and Stéphane Richelmi won the 6 Hours of Silverstone in the #38, ahead of the sister car. Jazeman Jaar, Nabil Jeffri and Weiron Tan did the same in the #37 in Fuji. 

Signatech Alpine is still leading the championship though with just 1 point over both Jackie Chan Oreca’s.  Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Pierre Thiriet have a total of 87 points, also after inheriting the Le Mans win due to the G-Drive disqualification. The fourth place, with 55 points so far, is for the Dragonspeed Oreca of Pastor Maldonado and Roberto Gonzalez. Anthony Davidson scored just 21 points, due to missing out the first 2 races of the season.  


After another cracking race in Fuji, Porsche leads the manufacturers championship in the Pro class with 152 points, already giving them a big lead of 56 points over Ford in second (96 points) and 68 points over Ferrari (84 points) in third. 

© Porsche

Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen are the leading drivers in their #92 Porsche with 96 points after 4 consecutive podium finishes and their win in Fuji last month. The #66 Porsche of Olivier Pla and Stefan Mücke lost quite a lot ground to the Porsche after 2 minor results in Silverstone and Fuji.  They still stand second in the championship so far with 61 points.  Third place is for the #51 Ferrari of Silverstone winners Allesandro Pier Guidi and James Calado with 55,5 points. 

© BMW Motorsport
Further down the order we find the first Aston Martin (#98) with 30,5 points and BMW (#82) with 28 points. The latest BoP adjustments seem to have levelled the field, with all manufacturers able to fight for victory at a certain point in Fuji.  Aston Martin took pole in Fuji, while BMW finished second behind the winning Porsche.  There have been a few further adjustments in the Balance of Performance ahead of this weekend’s race, so this class should be in for some more exciting door to door battles over 6 hours. 

© FIA WEC/Adrenal Media

Corvette returns to the FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend with a one off appearance for the C7.R in the GTE Pro category.  Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner will be at the wheel of the silver “Redline” livery Corvette.  For the American team, it’s the first race in the FIA WEC outside Le Mans since the 6 Hours of the Americas in Austin back in 2014.


© Porsche

Dempsey-Proton competition leads the LMGTE Am championship with the #77 of Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer and Matt Campbell. Despite their dramatic race in Fuji and all the post race controversy, Ried & co have a total of 80 points, giving them a lead of 14 points over the Team Project 1 Porsche. The German team that debuts in the FIA WEC has moved up the standings quietly since Le Mans. Podium finishes at Le Mans and Silverstone and winning in Japan put them halfway the championship on second place. Egidio Perfetti, Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey managed to collect 66 points so far. 

© TF Sport/Andrew Lofthouse

The #90 Aston Martin Vantage of TF Sport is third halfway the championship with Salih Yoluc and Charles Eastwood on 54 points. 2 points down is the second Aston (#98) in the class of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda with 52 points.  The first Ferrari is the #61 Clearwater Racing who are in for an emotional weekend in their home race. The 6 Hours of Shanghai will be the final race of Wen Sun Mok, who has decided to end his racing career on Sunday.  The team will continue to race in the Super season with Matt Griffin and Keita Sawa, no news has emerged yet about a new third driver. 

The #88 Dempsey-Proton Competition Porsche has 2 “new” drivers on board with Khaled Al Qubaisi and Ricardo Pera who will join Matteo Cairoli for the weekend. 

The first free practice session is scheduled for 11h on Friday morning, the second 90 minute session at 15h30 in the afternoon.  

Track action in China will however start at 8h00 in the morning with an LMP1 exclusive Michelin tire test for 1h45’. Only LMP1 cars are eligible for this session, and it’s not likely that all cars will come out.