After scoring their second LMP1 podium at last month's WEC race in Japan, the team was looking to capitalize on that momentum. Qualifying went very well, as Romain Dumas took the pole position from Toyota by the tiniest of fractions of a second. It would seem that every race that goes by, Porsche is getting just a little closer to that first overall victory, and this race in Shanghai was no different. In GTE Pro, the Porsche factory team was trying to redeem themselves from a lackluster race at Fuji. The 911 RSRs didn't manage to capture pole position, as that went to the Aston Martin team, but they knew they had a fast car, and something to prove. As soon as the race got started, all four Porsche teams lit the flame and got underway.
Leading from pole, the 14 car with Romain Dumas at the helm, led the race through the first 21 laps, and the 20 car first inherited second by staying out during a short caution period (from lap 1 through 8) while the Toyota teams pitted, and then moved into the lead at lap 21. During the first pit stop on lap 33, Dumas stayed in for a double stint, due to the stop, the #14 dropped from a position ahead of the Toyotas to third just behind them. On his 64th lap in the car, Dumas handed over the helm to Marc Lieb, who continued the race third. Lieb stayed in third, pitting on lap 95, stopping for fuel and tires. More fuel, more tires, and a driver change to Neel Jani at the end of lap 126. Jani pitted once more and brought the car home in third.
As things went relatively uneventfully for the #14 car, the #20 car had a little bit of a bad day. The car started in third on the grid, and Brendon Hartley was soon hot on the tail of the leading Porsche 919. It only took until lap 22 before Hartley 'the hair' move into the lead. He maintained that lead through his first pit stop at lap 33. Unfortunately, only a lap after his stop, Hartley's #20 car suffered a tire failure, and the tire took that opportunity to excuse itself from the rim. The time it took Hartley to limp all the way around the track back to the pits, plus the time lost in the additional pit stop caused Hartley to drop all the way back behind the Audis in 6th. On lap 66, Hartley handed over to Timo Bernhard. Lap 128, Bernhard handed over to Webber. Webber ended up bringing the car home in 6th, as they just couldn't make up the laps lost.
Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Board, Research and Development:
“The weekend ended with a podium finish for our prototype in the LMP1 class and a one-two for the 911 RSR in the GTE category. Of course, it is a shame we had that puncture on car number 20, and the damaged tyre unfortunately dropped us back one lap. Nevertheless: pole position and a podium in LMP1 and a one-two in GT made it a very good weekend.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1:
“I think it is surprising: Here in Shanghai we have achieved our second pole position and the third podium finish in what was only our sixth race in our first season. After a difficult start to the weekend, the team managed a great qualifying and exploited the car’s potential in the race.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal:
“A pole position and a podium on the same weekend is a new achievement for us, and it is good to see the number 14 car’s crew up there for the first time after they have been unlucky a few times. Bad luck today struck car number 20. Without that puncture we would have come third and fourth. The good result is a bit surprising because we were fighting a lack of grip from the tyres here right from the beginning. It is remarkable that our team still found such a good car set-up so that we were able to achieve P3 on our own merits. Also it is positive that again we didn’t have any technical problems. Congratulations to Toyota for another one-two result – this is the current benchmark.”
Romain Dumas, Driver 919 Hybrid number 14:
“My stint was great. I had a good start and was able to stay in P1 for the first 21 laps. Later I couldn’t do a lot more but was able to keep in third place. The car was running well in the beginning and I was leading from my teammate Brendon, although he was on different tyres because we wanted to evaluate the differences. The car was working very well, but towards the end of the stint we were lacking performance, especially in medium speed corners like in the second sector. However, we succeeded in minimising this problem and the others couldn’t overtake us because we are so quick on the straights.”
Mark Webber, Driver 919 Hybrid number 20:
”We had a lot of catching up to do today and in the end it was just too much for us to gain a better position. It was bad luck that Brendon had that puncture and, furthermore, that it happened in the beginning of the lap so he had a lot of slow driving to do to get back to the pits. That really hurt our race, but despite this we were competitive. Brendon and Timo did a great job as did the entire crew. I think this was almost a better team effort than our third place recently in Fuji."
Race result 6 hours of Shanghai (China):
1. Davidson/Buemi (GB/CH), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 188 laps
2. Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima (A/F/J), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, – 188 laps
3. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 187 laps
4. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/D/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, – 187 laps
5. Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (BRA/F/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, – 187 laps
6. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 919 Hybrid, – 186 laps
GTE Pro class
Practice for this race was abysmally wet, meaning that the Porsche teams had to set up for qualifying by working from prior knowledge of the track, and maybe some guesswork. It turns out, they got it pretty darn close, as the Manthey RSR team pushed to qualify second and third on the grid behind a lone Aston Martin. On race day, Porsche was able to convert a two-three qualifying into the team's second one-two finish of the season (the other being the season opener at Silverstone). After 167 laps of the Shanghai circuit, the GTE Pro victors were a pair of Frenchmen, works drivers Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR. The second placed position finish was delivered by Joerg Bergmeister and Richard Lietz in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR. Porsche is currently ranked second in the manufacturers’ championship, and this victory brings Porsche back into touch in the fight for the title. Porsche used their long term race pace to take the lead in the final third of the race, moving into the lead over one of the AF Corse Ferrari 458s.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport:
“We’re of course very pleased. That was a real sprint race and a tough fight over six hours. The team, drivers and engineers did everything perfectly. This has put us back in the fight for the championship and we’ll be heading to the next race in Bahrain more motivated than ever.”
Patrick Pilet, Driver 911 RSR #92:
“My first WEC win – it’s about time. The race today was perfect for us, everything ran smoothly. We had a great car, perfect pit stops and the right strategy. Now I’m looking forward to Bahrain.”
Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver Porsche 911 RSR #92:
“What a day. The team did a flawless job today and can be proud of this result. Our 911 RSR was well balanced and consistently fast right from the start. That was without doubt one of our best races.”
Jörg Bergmeister, Driver Porsche 911 RSR #91:
“This is a dream result for Porsche. It’s not only important for our comeback in the manufacturers’ championship, Fred has also taken a big step forward in the fight for the drivers’ title. Now anything is possible in the battle for the trophy.”
Richard Lietz, Driver Porsche 911 RSR #91:
“That was a really tough race where we had to manage the tyres well. The mechanics did a great job in changing the tyres. First and second – what a dream result and it’ll inspire us even more for the rest of the season.”
GTE-Pro Class Results
1. Makowiecki/Pilet (F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 167 laps
2. Bergmeister/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 167
3. Rigon/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 166
4. MacDowall/O’Young/Rees (GB/HK/BRA), Aston Martin Vantage, 166
5. Turner/Mücke (GB/D), Aston Martin Vantage, 123
GTE-Am Class Results
1. Lamy/Dalla Lana/Nygaard (P/CAN/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 165 laps
2. Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Stanaway (DK/DK/NZ), Aston Martin, 165
3. Roda/Ruberti/Cressoni (I/I/I), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 164
4. Collard/Perrodo/Vaxivière (FRA/FRA/FRA), Porsche 911 RSR, 163
5. Ried/Henzler/Al Qubaisi (D/D/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, 161
The seventh of eight races on the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC calendar takes place on 15 November in Sakhir/Bahrain.
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