Round Seven of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Fuji, offered some of the best motorsport action across any series, championship or formula that we have seen this year. As the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship reaches its penultimate round, the 6 Hours of Shanghai promises more no-holds-barred action across all the four classes.
Adding additional poignancy to this round will be the fact that this will be the first of two opportunities to witness the might of Audi Sport Team Joest with the Audi R18 for the final time, following the shock announcement on October 26 that the manufacturer will be leaving endurance racing to focus on FIA Formula E. The announcement was as much a shock to the drivers as it was to the motorsport press and public and the team will definitely want to leave its mark on its final two appearances.
There are no changes to the entries or drivers in the LMP1 class for the Shanghai round.
In LMP2 Tom Blomqvist replaces Giedo van der Garde in the #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2, to drive alongside Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael. In the #35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine A460 Paul-Loup Chatin replaces nelson Pantiaticci alongside David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung. The #42 Strakka Racing Gibson 015S will be missing for the last two rounds of the championship due to engine issues and the difficulty of shipping a fresh engine out to China.
There has been a shuffle in the driver line-ups for the two Manor entries. Alex Lynn replaces Roberto Mehri in the #44 ORECA 05 and will join Matt Rao and Richard Bradley. In the #45 entry Roberto Gonzalez and Mathias Beche will drive alongside Tor Graves.
There are no changes to the LMGTE pro entries from Round Seven.
In LMGTE Am Romain Brandela replaces Yutaka Yamagishi in the #50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C7 – Z06.
In the FIA WEC Manufacturers Champioship Porsche hold a 59-point lead over Audi, Porsche topping the table on 263 points. With only two rounds left, Porsche look strong favourites for the title. Toyota, however, are only 30 points behind Audi and after the victory on home soil at Fuji, will now believe that second place in the Championship is within its grasp.
LMP2 saw a titanic battle at Fuji between the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 05 and the #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier JS P2. With the #36 Signatech-Alpine holding a 35-point lead on 171 points in the FIA WEC Endurance Trophy For LMP2 Teams, the French team will be hard to beat. However, G-Drive Racing, buoyed by its incredible ‘never-say-die’ victory at Fuji, will definitely believe that second place in the team trophy is realistic.
In LMGTE Pro it’s all to play for with only 16 points separating the top four teams. Aston Martin Racing has a 10-point advantage at the top of the table over AF Corse with the two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK entries tied on 103 points, 6 points behind the the #71 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE entry.
The #83 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia holds a 33 –point advantage over the #98 Aston Martin Racing entry in the LMGTE Am class and is now in the driving seat for the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am teams.
The first Free Practice session for the 6 Hours of Shanghai starts at 10:00 local time on Friday November 4. Qualifying is split into two twenty-minute sessions for the Prototype and GTE classes and starts at 13:30 local time on Saturday November 5.
The lights go out for the start of the 6 Hours of Shanghai at 11:00 local time on Sunday November 6.
UK time is 8 hours behind local time so it will be a very early start for European endurance racing enthusiasts on Sunday morning.