Toyota drivers Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson dominated the Shanghai World Endurance Championship round to extend their lead at the top of the points table.
A fourth win of the season for the #8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid means that the duo are now 42 points clear in the championship, with just 52 up for grabs over the final two WEC rounds later this month.
Buemi and Davidson led home a Toyota one-two in China on a day that the TS040 again showed its superiority over Porsche’s 919 Hybrid and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
Buemi came from the back of the field to take the lead of the race in less than an hour after Toyota opted to bring its cars in during a prolonged safety-car period that followed a first-lap incident.
Toyota was effectively taking the splash of fuel it would need at the end of the race under yellow flag conditions, but a problem fueling the #8 TS040 meant Buemi had to return to the pits the lap after his original stop.
Buemi was up to third behind the two Porsches by the time the other LMP1 cars started making their pit stops, took second from Romain Dumas in the #14 car and then moved into the lead when Brendon Hartley pitted in the #20 car. The Toyota stopped four laps later and Davidson was able to retain a lead that it only briefly lost over the remainder of the six-hour race.
The second Toyota, shared by Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima, came through to second, finishing 1m12s down on a day when it didn’t have the pace of the sister car and lost power in the middle of the race.
“In qualifying we missed out; I think the Porsche genuinely had the upper hand, but a six-hour race is different,” said Davidson. “We had the car to do the job and it is great to win.” (Post-race press conference video below.)
The #14 Porsche, in which Marc Lieb and Neel Jani joined Dumas, took its first podium of the season with third place, albeit a lap down.
The #20 Porsche shared by Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard had taken the lead from Dumas during the opening stint, but ended up down in sixth after the a puncture during the second hour.
The two Audis ended up fourth and fifth, the championship-challenging duo of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler finishing 12s ahead of team-mates Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Tom Kristensen.
The G-Drive Racing Ligier JSP2 notched up its second LMP2 victory in the hands of Olivier Pla, Julien Canal and Roman Rusinov after a dominating the class. Its only likely rival, the KCMG ORECA-Nissan 03R shared by Alexandre Imperatori, Richard Bradley and Matt Howson, was eliminated on the opening lap when the car slowed with fuel pump failure and was hit up the rear by Gianmaria Bruni’s AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.
“The car was very good and consistent over the whole of my stint. Our advantage was that our tires degrade slower than the others,” said Pla. “We have to continue like this, the championship is far from won.”
Aston Martin Racing and Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner were on course for a Shanghai hat-trick in GTE Pro when a major engine failure put the lead Aston Vantage GTE out in the penultimate hour. That allowed the factory Porsche 911 RSR of Frederic Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet, which had trailed the Aston by nearly half a minute at the time of its retirement, to claim class honors.
The triumph puts Makowiecki, who started the season sharing with Marco Holzer, back in the hunt for the championship after leaders Bruni and Toni Vilander failed to score after their first-lap retirement.
Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard triumphed in GTE Am after an all-Aston Martin battle with teammates Richie Stanaway, Kristin Poulsen and David Heinemeier Hansson.
RESULTS – 188 LAPS:
|1||LMP1||A.Davidson, S.Buemi||Toyota Racing||Toyota||–|
|2||LMP1||A.Wurz, S.Sarrazin/K.Nakajima||Toyota Racing||Toyota||1m 12.564s|
|3||LMP1||R.Dumas, N.Jani/M.Lieb||Porsche Team||Porsche||1 Lap|
|4||LMP1||M.Fassler, A.Lotterer/B.Treluyer||Audi Sport Team Joest||Audi||1 Lap|
|5||LMP1||L.di Grassi, L.Duval/T.Kristensen||Audi Sport Team Joest||Audi||1 Lap|
|6||LMP1||T.Bernhard, M.Webber/B.Hartley||Porsche Team||Porsche||2 Laps|
|7||LMP1||N.Prost, N.Heidfeld/M.Beche||Rebellion Racing||Rebellion/Toyota||8 Laps|
|8||LMP1||D.Kraihamer, A.Belicchi/F.Leimer||Rebellion Racing||Rebellion/Toyota||8 Laps|
|9||LMP2||R.Rusinov, O.Pla/J.Canal||G-Drive Racing||Ligier/Nissan||11 Laps|
|10||LMP2||S.Sharp, R.Dalziel/R.Gonzalez||Extreme Speed Motorsports||HPD||14 Laps|
|11||LMP2||S.Zlobin, N.Minassian/M.Mediani||SMP Racing||Oreca/Nissan||14 Laps|
|12||LMP2||K.Ladygin, V.Shaitar/A.Ladygin||SMP Racing||Oreca/Nissan||14 Laps|
|13||LMP2||E.Brown, J.van Overbeek/D.Brabham||Extreme Speed Motorsports||HPD||15 Laps|
|14||LMP1||P.Kaffer, L.Auer||Lotus/AER||17 Laps|
|15||LMP2||D.Cheng, H-Pin Tung/M.Patterson||Oak Racing||Morgan/Judd||21 Laps|
|16||GTE Pro||F.Makowiecki, P.Pilet||Porsche Team Manthey||Porsche||21 Laps|
|17||GTE Pro||J.Bergmeister, R.Lietz||Porsche Team Manthey||Porsche||21 Laps|
|18||GTE Pro||D.Rigon, J.Calado||AF Corse||Ferrari||22 Laps|
|19||GTE Pro||A.MacDowall, D.O’Young/F.Rees||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin||22 Laps|
|20||GTE Am||P.D.Lana, P.Lamy/C.Nygaard||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin||23 Laps|
|21||GTE Am||K.Poulsen, D.Hansson/R.Stanaway||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin||23 Laps|
|22||GTE Am||G.Roda, P.Ruberti/M.Cressoni||8 Star Motorsports||Ferrari||24 Laps|
|23||GTE Am||F.Perrodo, E.Collard/M.Vaxiviere||Prospeed Competition||Porsche||25 Laps|
|24||GTE Am||C.Ried, W.Henzler/K.Al Qubaisi||Proton Competition||Porsche||27 Laps|
|–||GTE Pro||D.Turner, S.Mucke||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin||Retirement|
|–||GTE Pro||G.Bruni, T.Vilander||AF Corse||Ferrari||Retirement|