Three weeks on from the deluge that curtailed the race in Japan, the FIA World Endurance Championship moved on to China for the 6 Hours of Shanghai last weekend for what turned out to be an exciting race. Nearly 30,000 Chinese race fans added to the atmosphere during the race that proved to be significant in the 2013 championship.
2013-Shanghai -start -straigh
The eventual winning car was the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer & Marcel Fassler at the wheel, but it had looked like the No. 7 Toyota was going to take the race, but they eventually finished 15 seconds back in second place. Significantly third place was taken by the No. 2 Audi of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval giving them an unassailable lead in the FIA World Endurance Drivers Championship.
The No. 7 Toyota TS030 Hybrid started the race from pole and set the early pace, but eventually allowed the No. 8 sister car with a flying Anthony Davidson behind the wheel to lead from the front. The 2 Toyotas then continued to dominate the rival Audis for the fast half of the race. In fact it was on 90 minutes from the end of the race when the momentum changed.
First the No. 8 Toyota was forced to retire after suffering from a suspension failure whilst at the front. The No. 7 Toyota was then leading going in to the final hour. Critically though, the Toyota had to stop for fuel. After a “splash and dash” the Toyota did manage to emerge from the pit lane ahead the No. 1 Audi, but they were now on older tyres. The No. 1 Audi was finally able to make a pass as Alex Wurz in the Toyota struggled for grip and couldn’t defend his lead. It was a pass that ultimately gave the No. 1 Audi victory. Behind the 3 factory cars the No. 12 Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota once again proved reliable and came home in fourth overall.
G-Drive Racing (Oreca 03 Nissan) took their win tally to three in the LMP2 class this year. They finished ahead of the No. 24 Oak Racing Morgan Nissan after a close battle. The No. 35 Oak Racing car finished third retaining the lead for drivers Baguette, Plowman & Gonzalez in the Drivers and Teams Championship points table (ahead of their sister car). Elsewhere in the class the No. 49 Pecom Racing team suffered from electrical problems, which meant a long stay in the pits and eventual retirement. The No.31 Lotus also retired from the LMP2 field following damage sustained in a collision out on track.
2013-Shanghai -Oak -Racing
In the GTE-Pro class Aston Martin Racing claimed an impressive 1-2 with Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke bringing home the No. 97 car from pole position. The win also gives them the lead in the GT drivers championship. The second placed No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage was only 0.6 seconds behind its sister car as they crossed the line, helping Aston Martin Racing to top spot in the GT manufacturers championship. The No. 91 Porsche finished third after they inherited the position from the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari which suffered brake issues late in the race.
As usual there was plenty of action in the GTE-Am category in Shanghai. All looked good for the No.95 Aston Martin in the first half of the race, before electrical issues ended their race. The baton was picked up by the No. 81 8 StarMotorsports Ferrari with 2 hours to go and continued on to win a whole lap ahead of the rest of the field. The No. 76 IMSA Matmut Porsche took the second step on the podium edging out the other Aston Martin (No. 96). The result means that the Aston Martin crew of Cambpell-Walter, Hall and Adam retain their lead in the GTE Am Drivers and teams championship table.
A serious fuel rig fire in the pit lane looked to be disastrous for the No. 50 Larbre Competition team as their Corvette and pit crew were engulfed in flames. Quick action by the team & their neighbours meant that the fire was quickly extinguished and although a medical team was called no further action was deemed necessary. This was a big thumbs up for the safety requirements maintained in the FIA WEC.
So there is still much to play for in the FIA World Endurance Championship as the 2014 season moves on the final round in Bahrain at the end of the month.
Words: Richard Webb