Porsche clinches World Championship with dominant win in Shanghai
Porsche has clinched the FIA WEC Manufacturer's World Championship with a commanding victory for Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard in Sunday's Six Hours of Shanghai.
Gustavo Menezes, meanwhile, became the first American driver to win a FIA world title in 35 years, having locked up the LMP2 championship one race early with a fourth place finish in class.
Hartley took the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid to a 59.785-second win over the No. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobyashi, who like the sister third place-finishing No. 5 Toyota, took fuel-only in their final pit stops.
The German manufacturer's sixth win of the season, and fourth in the last five races for Hartley, Webber and Bernhard, came in a flawless effort from all three drivers.
A nose change in the third hour, due to rubber buildup, was the only delay for the No. 1 car.
It marked Porsche's second consecutive Manufacturer's World Championship, having also clinched the title one race early in Shanghai last year.
Toyota's fuel-only final stop could have put Kobayashi and co-drivers Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway into the mix for the win but for not two left-rear punctures earlier in the race, one requiring an unscheduled stop.
The No. 5 Toyota finished ahead of the championship-leading No. 2 Porsche of Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas, who were unable to lock up the title with their fourth place finish.
It was another disaster of a race for Audi, with the title-contending No. 8 entry having a fuel rig issue from its second pit stop, after running second and within grasp of the No. 1 Porsche at the time.
Lucas Di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis soldiered home to finish fifth, three laps behind the winning Porsche, after contact with the sister No. 7 car in the fourth hour that sent both cars to the garage for repairs.
The No. 7 Audi was sixth at the line after lengthy repairs to its air jack system due to the contact.
ByKolles claimed its first LMP1 Privateer class victory in more than a year, following issues for the No. 13 Rebellion R-One AER.
A water leak sent the class pole-sitting entry into the garage in the third hour, costing them nearly 10 minutes, compounded by an injector failure in the final hour.
Pierre Kaffer, Simon Trummer and Oliver Webb finished seventh overall in the Austrian squad's CLM P1/01 AER, their first since Circuit of The Americas in 2015.
While G-Drive Racing claimed back-to-back LMP2 victories, a fourth place class finish was enough for Signatech Alpine to clinch the class title, one race early.
The No. 36 Alpine A460 Nissan of Menezes, Nico Lapierre andStephane Richelmi had a mixed race, battling setup issues and a spin by Menezes in the third hour after contact by the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Bruno Senna, who received a penalty.
Lapierre was then locked into a heated late-race battle with RGR Sport’s Filipe Albuquerque, who managed to finish third in class, despite contact on the final lap with a GTE-Am car.
It marked only the second non-podium finish of the season for the Philippe Sinault-led Signatech crew, which has claimed four class victories in eight races so far.
Up front in the race, G-Drive’s Stevens, Alex Brundle and Roman Rusinov took another class win, after a relatively flawless race for the Jota Sport-run operation.
Stevens finished one-lap ahead of the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier Nissan of Antonio Giovanazzi, Sean Gelael and LMP2 debutant Tom Blomqvist, who claimed their first podium finish in only the second race for the Jagonya Ayam-backed program.
The sister No. 31 Tequila Patron ESM entry completed the top-five in class.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing scored its second consecutive 1-2 sweep in GTE-Pro, with Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx taking a dominant class win.
Priaulx took a 50.652-second victory over the sister No. 66 entry of Olivier Pla and Stefan Muecke, following a hard-fought battle with the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE for the runner-up spot.
Muecke and Pla fought back from an unscheduled stop in the third hour, which derailed their chances of class victory.
The No. 67 Ford led from lights-to-flag, in a near mirror-image to its equally dominant run in last month’s round at Fuji, which saw Tincknell and Priaulx score their breakthrough first win.
Bruni and co-driver James Calado had to settle for third in class on Sunday, with the championship-leading No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim coming home fourth.
Their sister No. 97 Aston was taken out of the race on the first lap after Richie Stanaway was clipped by the spinning No. 45 Manor Oreca 05 Nissan of Mathias Beche.
It resulted in the race’s only safety car period, but saw Ferrari extend its slim lead in the GT Manufacturers’ Cup, despite a tough race for the No. 71 AF Corse entry, which finished fifth.
Aston Martin Racing, meanwhile, scored its third consecutive GTE-Am class victory and fifth of the season, in another commanding run for Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.
Lauda took the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE to a 51-second win over the No. 78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR, following last-lap contact between Wolf Henzler and the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia GT of Rui Aguas.
Championship leader Aguas and co-drivers Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo finished third in class, keeping the title fight alive heading into the season finale in Bahrain.