Photo: Joao Filipe / Adrenalmedia.com
Toyota Gazoo Racing made it a 1-2 at the 6 Hours of Shanghai, Round Five of the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship “Super Season”, with the #7 Toyota TS050 – Hybrid, piloted by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López crossing the line 1.419 seconds ahead of the sister #8 car driven by Sébastian Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso.
Completing the podium positions in the LMP1 category was the #11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER with the driver line-up of Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov and Jenson Button.
Taking the victory in the LMP2 category was the “Mighty” #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Gibson-powered ORECA 07 with the driver line-up of Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stéphane Richelmi. Second in the LMP2 class was the #31 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 piloted by Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado and Anthony Davidson. The #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 completed the top three in the LMP2 category with the driver line-up of Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet bring the #36 car home 53.375 seconds behind the #31 DragonSpeed entry.
The LMGTE Pro category was won by the #96 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR driven by the Danish duo of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim followed by the #91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR piloted by Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni just 9.529 seconds behind.
Porsche took a clean sweep of the podium positions in the LMGTE Am category with the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR with the driver line-up of Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer and Matt Campbell taking the class victory ahead of the #56 Team Project 1 entry piloted by Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti. Completing the top three positions in class was the sister #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing entry driven by Khaled Al Qubaisi, Riccardo Pera and Matteo Cairoli.
Kamui Kobayashi, driver of the winning #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 – Hybrid, was prepared for the bad weather that affected much of the race and was careful to manage the risk that the torrential rain provided.
“We expected this was going to be a hard one and the rain was really a lot and I had no visibility at all,” said Kobayashi. “We just try to nit take any risk and overtake properly but we knew that at points the safety car would come out to make it a help for us.”
“We tried not to push too hard and we had a safety car on not good timing and we made a gap to the #8 car which for them was a big shame. When we restarted we tried to pull a gap. It was quite good and the car felt good too and I handed it over to Mike (Conway).”
“The team did a great job and I have to congratulate everyone.”
Stephane Richelmi felt unwell as race day approached but, as starting driver for the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07, knew he had a big responsibility.
“I have been a a bit sick today so when I opened up the curtains this morning and saw the rain I said, ‘Okay, I want to stay in bed and have a chilled day’ but I had a job to do and start the race.”
“It was not easy obviously because of the conditions and we lost some positions at the start. We made a tricky choice with the tyre pressures and it was hard to stay on track but I knew the race was long and even if we dropped to P5, the win was still possible and then we made a good choice to out before the others.”
“When the safety car went in, the pace of the car was good and we could open a gap and then my teammates continued the good job, especially Gabby on the inters.”
Marco Sorensen was delighted to take the first win for the new Aston Martin Racing Vantage AMR with teammate Nicki Thiim in the #96 entry.
“It was definitely a long race in difficult conditions as you saw,” said the Danish driver. “I think e are both super happy that we got the first win with the new car. It seemed so quick that we were almost fighting for the overall victory today.”
“The team has been doing so much work. It was a hard start to the season, so to finish off before the winter break with a win we can go home and try to improve even more. I’m just super happy and we are looking forward to Sebring.”
The win for Toyota Gazoo Racing means that it leads the FIA World Endurance Championship by on 118 points, 28 ahead of Rebellion Racing. The crew of the #8 Toyota TS050 – Hybrid lead the Drivers Championship, however, on 102 points with Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sébastien Buemi five points ahead of teammates José Mariá López, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway.
In the LMP2 class, victory in China means that the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry now holds a ten-point lead over the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut car. The sister #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry is a further four points back on 98 points.
Porsche now had a commanding lead the GTE Manufacturers standings on 181 points, 76 ahead of Ford on 105 points.
The LMGTE Am Teams Endurance Trophy standings are led by Team Project 1 on 84 points, twenty points ahead of the #98 Aston Martin Racing entry, after the Dempsey-Proton Racing was stripped of all championship points earned thus far in the season due to a fueling irregularity, the penalty for which was announced prior to the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
The FIA World Endurance Championship grid assembles next for the 1000 Miles of Sebring on March 13 – 15 2019.