Toyota wins rain-hit Six Hours of Shanghai

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Toyota Gazoo Racing once again secured victory in the final race of the year in the FIA WEC Super Season 2018/2019, the Six Hours of Shanghai. Despite an excellent showing from Rebellion Racing and SMP Racing, the privateers just didn’t have luck on their side to overcome Toyota’s advantage. The #7 car took its second victory in a row, with drivers Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López’s now trailing championship leaders Alonso/Buemi/Nakajima by just five points.

Wetterbedingt erfolgte der Start bei den 6 Stunden von Shanghai hinter dem Safety Car.
Due to persistent rain, the 6 Hours of Shanghai began behind the safety car

Just as was the case for Friday’s free practice sessions, the rain was a dominating feature of Sunday’s action. The conditions were so poor at the start of the Six Hours of Shanghai that the race director deemed that the race would have to start behind the safety car.

The first few hours of the race passed by without too many changes in position at the head of the field and without any significant gaps opening up. However, the wet conditions did put paid to some teams’ chances, including the #4 ByKolles Racing machine, which retired after a fire.

The rain subsided at around the halfway point of the race, but with the track still damp, privateers such as Rebellion Racing and SMP Racing were able to compete with the leading manufacturer hybrids. In spite of the difficult conditions, Toyota Gazoo Racing just had the pace to triumph in China and secure another one-two finish.

The win went to the #7 car of Mike Conway, José María López and Kamui Kobayashi, who closed the gap at the top of the championship to just five points as a result. Second was the sister Toyota of Alonso/Buemi/Nakajima and third went to the #11 SMP Racing crew of Jenson Button, Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov for the Russian team’s first ever LMP1 podum.

Aston Martin Racing flawless to secure first win of season

One of the most impressive performances of the day came in GTE Pro. The #95 “Dane Train” Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim defied the wet conditions to take a commanding lead and wrap-up an impressive win, the first ever for the new-for-2018 Vantage.

Second place went to the #91 Porsche 911 RSR of Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni, after the Austrian Lietz overtook the second-place #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage at the death to prevent the British marque scoring a famous one-two. Visibly struggling for grip, the #97 car fell back even further and lost the final place on the podium to the hard-charging championship leaders Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR.

Aston Martin secured their first ever WEC victory in Shanghai with their new Vantage.
Aston Martin secured their first ever WEC victory with their new Vantage

Jackie Chan DC Racing carried their form from qualifying over to the race, with the #38 Oreca of Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stéphane Richelmi taking the win. Second position went to the #31 DragonSpeed Oreca 07 – Gibson for the US team’s first podium of the season. Signatech Alpine Matmut extended its run of successive podiums this season to five out of a possible five by finishing third.

Porsche made up for their disappointment in GTE Pro by taking a clean sweep of the podium in GTE Am. Dempsey-Proton Racing and Team Project 1 held the upper hand throughout the race and were able to keep the Aston Martins and Ferraris at bay. The #77 car ultimately took the win, with the #56 Team Project 1 911 driven by Jörg Bergmeister, Egidio Perfetti and Patrick Lindsey finishing second after overtaking the the #88 Dempsey Proton Racing car in the closing stages of the race.