FIA WEC: Porsche wins Shanghai, clinches World Manufacturers Title
Porsche has clinched the FIA World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship with 1-2 sweep in a wild wet-turned dry FIA WEC Six Hours of Shanghai.
Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley extended their lead in the drivers’ championship with their fourth consecutive overall win, outpacing Audi despite a strong tactical challenge from the title rival.
The No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid dominated the second half of the race, with Bernhard having retaken the lead from the sister No. 18 entry on Lap 100 and Webber controlling the gap over the pair of Audis in his closing double stint.
A spin by Romain Dumas with 1 hour and 20 minutes to go saw the Frenchman lose second to the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fassler, who along with the No. 8 Audi, clawed time back by being the first to switch to slick tires.
However, it wasn’t ultimately enough to catch the Porsches, as Webber took a 26.294-second victory over Dumas, whose gamble for fuel-only on the final stop saw the No. 18 Porsche leapfrog from fourth to second in the final 20 minutes.
Porsche’s fourth 1-2 sweep of the season was good enough for the German manufacturer to lock up the title one race early, marking its first FIA World Championship in nearly 20 years.
The Drivers’ World Championship, however, will go down to the season finale in Bahrain, with Webber, Bernhard and Hartley now holding a 12-point lead over Audi’s Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer, who finished third on Sunday.
Audi’s sister No. 8 entry of Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis were fourth, with the No. 2 Toyota TS040 Hybrid completing the top-five after trouble for the defending World Champions in the No. 1 car.
The No. 12 Rebellion R-One AER of Nico Prost and Mathias Beche claimed LMP1 Privateer class honors, despite a late-race crash by Beche, which damaged three corners of the car.
Beche managed to limp the car back to the pits for repairs, benefiting from the fourth and final Full Course Yellow of the race, to come out ahead of the No. 4 ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER by one lap.
Signatech Alpine, meanwhile, broke through to claim its first LMP2 class victory in series competition, with Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Tom Dillmann taking their Alpine A450b Nissan to top honors.
Dillman, in his WEC debut, edged out the class championship-leading No. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Sam Bird by 1 lap, with the sister No. 28 G-Drive entry of Ricardo Gonzalez losing third after spinning into the gravel on the final lap.
It promoted title rivals KCMG to the final podium position, having rebounded from an early race spin by Nick Tandy and an incorrect tire choice.
Richard Bradley and Matt Howson hold an unlikely, but mathematical chance of the title heading into Bahrain.
Pegasus Racing dominated the first half of the race with its Michelin-shod Morgan Nissan excelling in the wet conditions with Alex Brundle and Ho-Pin Tung but faded in the drying conditions en route to a fifth place finish in class.
The No. 30 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda was also an early contender, with Ryan Dalziel pitting from the class lead at the halfway mark but retired with gearbox failure in the fourth hour.
Porsche Team Manthey and Richard Lietz inched closer to the GTE-Pro world title with a dominant class win.
Lietz and Michael Christensen claimed their third class victory in the last four races, taking their No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR to a 45.607-second victory over the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni in second.
The German manufacturer controlled the wet-turned-dry enduro from the onset, with the pair of factory Porsche 911 RSRs enjoying an early lead, although coming under fire from GT Manufacturer leader Ferrari in the second half.
A marathon four-and-a-half hour stint by Vilander put the AF Corse Ferrari within a fighting chance, but it wasn’t enough to deny Lietz and Christensen of another class win.
The No. 92 Porsche of Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet completed the class podium in third, ahead of the AF Corse’s Davide Rigon and James Calado, which lost significant ground in the drivers’ title race.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Italian squad, however, as AF Corse picked up its first class victory of the season in GTE-Am.
Emmanuel Collard, Francois Perrodo and Rui Aguas kept their slim title chances alive with the win, despite having to serve a late-race penalty for a pit lane infraction.
Their No. 83 Ferrari finished 41.745 seconds ahead of the class pole-sitting No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda in second.
The No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari completed the podium in third, with the Russian squad holding a 19-point advantage over the AF Corse trio heading into next month’s title decider in Bahrain.