Porsche takes WEC manufacturers’ title as no. 1 crew wins in Shanghai
Porsche wrapped up its second straight FIA World Endurance Championship manufacturers’ title by taking a confident victory in Sunday’s 6 Hours of Shanghai in China.
Defending world champions Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard shared the no. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid en route to their fourth win in five races, enjoying a victory margin of almost a minute over the no. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid come the checkered flag.
Coming off the back of its victory in Japan, Toyota continued its impressive form by running Porsche close for victory, only for the no. 6 crew’s hopes of a win dashed by two punctures despite a superior tire and fuel strategy.
The win for Webber and co. saw Porsche move into an unassailable lead at the top of the manufacturers’ championship ahead of the final race of the season in Bahrain in two weeks’ time, with the sister no.2 car coming home in fourth place behind the no. 5 Toyota.
Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani had been hoping to wrap up their maiden WEC drivers’ championship in Shanghai, but a fourth-place finish means the title battle will go to the final race of the year thanks to Toyota’s result.
Audi’s penultimate race in the WEC was one to forget as its pair of R18s made contact mid-race, leaving both with damage. The no. 8 car ultimately finished fifth, three laps down on the race-winning Porsche, while the no. 7 was classified sixth.
In LMP2, Signatech Alpine wrapped up the class title with one race to spare, marking a first major championship for American racer Gustavo Menezes.
Alongside Stephane Richelmi and Nicolas Lapierre, Menezes took the no. 36 Alpine-Nissan to fourth place in Shanghai as G-Drive Racing picked up its second straight victory with its no. 26 Oreca-Nissan, shared by Roman Rusinov, Will Stevens and Alex Brundle.
GTE Pro saw Ford Chip Ganassi Racing convert its dominant qualifying performance into a one-two finish in the race as Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell scored their second straight win.
The no. 67 Ford GT finished 50 seconds clear of the sister no. 66 car, shared by Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla, while the no. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 raced by Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado was third amid ongoing grumblings about Balance of Performance tweaks over the weekend.
Aston Martin Racing racked up its fifth GTE Am win of the year as the no. 98 trio of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana won the class by 51 seconds. The championship-leading no. 83 AF Corse crew finishing third, meaning the fight for the title will continue in Bahrain as AMR looks to bridge the 22-point gap.