Preview FIA WEC in Shanghai, China
Porsche focusing on title battle in Shanghai
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “After three consecutive Le Mans overall wins we also want to get both world championship titles for the third time after 2015 and 2016. This would be the crown of our LMP1 programmed and this is what we are aiming for. At the most recent six-hour race in Japan, we had our first match point but we didn’t succeed. Instead we lost ground to our competitor Toyota. In Shanghai we’ve got our next chance. To stay fully focused remains our top priority.”
The championship leading Porsche drivers Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) have scored 172 championship points while the best placed Toyota drivers have 133 points. If this Toyota takes maximum points in China – a race win from pole position is rewarded with 26 points – Bamber/Bernhard/Hartley need to finish the race in at least third position for them to clinch the drivers’ world championship title. The trio of the second Porsche 919 Hybrid, reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH), Andre Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB), currently rank fourth with a score of 98 points. In the manufacturers’ standings, Porsche leads with 270 points ahead of Toyota on 211.5 points. To secure the manufacturers’ title, Porsche would need to have no less than a 44 points advantage after six hours of racing.
The class 1 Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) develops a system power of around 900 HP (662 kW) that comes from a compact two-liter turbo charged V4-cylinder (nearly 500 HP/368 kW) engine and two different energy recovery systems – brake energy from the front axle combined with exhaust energy. The combustion engine drives the rear axle while the electro motor boosts the front axle with an output of more than 400 HP (294 kW). The electrical energy that comes from the front brakes and the exhaust system is temporarily stored in a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery.
Chinese Challenge for Toyota Racing
The team travels to China in a positive mood following a well-earned one-two finish in its home race at Fuji Speedway earlier this month, its third win from seven races in 2017.
Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 TS050 HYBRID are aiming for back-to-back victories after their triumph in Japan while Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose María L¢pez in the #7 car will push for a first win of the season.
For Jose, the Shanghai International Circuit is a rarity on the 2017 WEC calendar as it is one of the few tracks he has visited before. He won three of his six races there in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, finishing second in the others.
The circuit, located 40km from central Shanghai, features a combination of long straights and a variety of corners, from very slow hairpins at the beginning and end of the lap to faster, sweeping corners in the middle section.
TOYOTA has won twice in its five previous visits to Shanghai, during its first WEC season in 2012 and then as part of its World Championship-winning 2014 campaign, while last season saw the TS050 HYBRIDs earn a strong double podium finish.
Both World Championships are mathematically still open but a 58.5-point deficit to Porsche in the manufacturers’ standings, and a 39-point gap from Sebastien and Kazuki to the drivers’ leaders, means a serious title battle is unlikely.
But with a strong history at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit, the team’s target is to build on the Fuji success and fight for victory not only in China, but also in Bahrain for the season finale on 18 November.
Ford Focused on WEC Title Race in Shanghai
The 6 Hours of Shanghai was the scene of a memorable 1-2 finish for the Ford GTs in 2016, but WEC team principal, George Howard-Chappell, knows that one good result doesn’t guarantee another.
“More than anything we would like to have a drama free race after the trials of Fuji,” Howard-Chappell said. “It all unraveled for the #67 car after the pit lane penalty, but the guys in the #66 Ford GT did an outstanding job to race with very little visibility (due to an issue with the car’s wiper). Shanghai was a good event for us last year. We have two more races to go and we are prepared and ready to give it everything we’ve got.”
Andy Priaulx (GB) and Harry Tincknell (GB) took the win for Ford in Shanghai in 2016. Last year was their first visit to the Shanghai International Circuit, but practicing on a simulator before heading to China paid dividends for the pair. After losing their lead in the driver’s world championship at Fuji they need to have a strong weekend in China.
“For Harry and me it’s all about having the perfect weekend and getting back in the fight for the championship,” Priaulx said. “Shanghai was a good track for us last year so hopefully we can produce the same result this time around. Fuji was a strange one for us with very unusual conditions, so now we need a strong race with no drama. There are two more races to go and we’re still in it and still feeling positive. Shanghai is a circuit that suits our car so we need to be going there to score maximum points. It’s win or bust!”
Stefan Mucke (GER) and Olivier Pla (FRA) had the unenviable task of driving in the rain with no wipers in Fuji, but despite this they finished a very creditable fourth. After securing second place at Shanghai in 2016 the drivers of the #66 Ford GT would love to go one better this weekend.
“I’m looking forward to this race as Shanghai should suit our car,” Mücke said. “The weather will hopefully be better than Fuji and the warmer temperatures are always better for us. We go there to fight for the podium or a win, and I really hope we can be competitive. It’s a good track with a good mix of corners, including a very long straight and a special 100 degree Turn One. It’s unique and I like it. Let’s hope we have a clear race and clear weather.”
The first free practice session gets underway in Shanghai on Friday, Nov. 3 at 11:00 local time (04:00 CET) with further sessions taking place on Friday at 15:30 (08:30 CET) and Saturday, Nov. 4 at 09:00 (02:00 CET). Qualifying is on Saturday at 14:00 (07:00 CET) and the lights go green for the 6 Hours of Shanghai at 11:00 (04:00 CET) on Sunday, Nov. 5.
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