Championship-leading Toyota dominates Six Hours of Shanghai
Toyota continued to set the mark in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as the Japanese manufacturer claimed another convincing victory in Sunday’s Six Hours of Shanghai.
Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi celebrated their fourth victory of the season, taking the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid to a 1 minute and 12-second victory over the sister No. 7 entry of Alex Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima and Stephane Sarrazin.
It was a dominant run for the championship leaders, with Davidson taking over the lead early in the second hour, despite having made an additional pit stop while under the race’s only safety car period in the opening laps.
The tactical run by Toyota to avoid a late-race splash didn’t ultimately make the difference, as both entries had built up a one-lap lead over the LMP1 competition by the final hour.
It wasn’t completely clear sailing, though, as the No. 7 Toyota battled intermittent power issues, although the situation appeared to improve in the closing stints. The No. 8 car faced similar challenges early on.
The pole-sitting No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb came home in third, ahead of the two Audi R18 e-tron quattros, which enjoyed an intra-team fight throughout the race.
The No. 2 Audi ended up fourth, with Marcel Fassler edging out Lucas Di Grassi following the final round of pit stops.
A puncture for Brendon Hartley, who led in the early stages, relegated the No. 20 Porsche to a sixth place finish overall.
LMP1-L saw Rebellion Racing take top class honors, with the No. 12 Rebellion R-One Toyota of Mathias Beche, Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld returning to the top step of the podium after issues in Fuji.
G-Drive Racing inched closer to retaking the lead of the championship with another dominant class win in LMP2.
The No. 26 Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal claimed a flag-to-flag victory, the team’s fourth of the year and second straight with its new closed-top prototype.
Pla crossed the line a commanding three laps ahead of the No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Dalziel, who along with co-drivers Scott Sharp and Ricardo Gonzalez finished a season-best second in class.
The ESM entry finished ahead of both SMP Racing Oreca 03R Nissans, despite making one extra pit stop than the Russian entries, thanks to a late charge by the Scot, who recovered enough time for a splash of fuel with 30 minutes to go.
Porsche Team Manthey returned to the top step of the podium with a 1-2 finish in GTE-Pro.
Aston Martin Racing, meanwhile, picked up top class honors in GTE-Am for the fifth time out of six races this season.
Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet took the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR to a 1 minute and 7-second victory over the sister entry, driven by Joerg Bergmeister and Richard Lietz in second.
The 1-2 sweep for the German manufacturer came after the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Darren Turner and Stefan Muecke suffered terminal engine failure with 90 minutes to go after dominating the race from the green.
Coupled with championship leaders Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander crashing out in the opening lap, it turned out to be a big points day for Porsche, which inched closer in the GTE title race.
The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari recorded its first DNF since Shanghai 2012 after Bruni collided with the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03R Nissan of Alexandre Imperatori, which suffered a fuel pressure issue on the opening lap.
It resulted in a 20-minute safety car period to clean up the wreckage. Both drivers were uninjured but their cars were destroyed.
A late charge by Davide Rigon saw the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia complete the podium in third with co-driver James Calado, salvaging points for Ferrari in the manufacturers’ championship.
Aston Martin Racing, meanwhile, went 1-2 again in GTE-Am, with the No. 98 entry of Pedro Lamy, Christoffer Nygaard and Paul Dalla Lana taking their second class win of the season, keeping the trio in the title chase.
Lamy edged out teammate Richie Stanaway in the championship-leading No. 95 Young Driver-backed Aston by 1 minute and 21 seconds, with the No. 90 8Star Motorsports Ferrari completing the podium in third.