Porsche On Pole For 6-Hours Of China!
Porsche has won five of the seven FIA WEC rounds run so far, and with a pole position in Shanghai today, the team is aiming to add to that total during tomorrow’s 6-hour endurance event.
Porsche's 2015 FIA WEC World Champions, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, and Mark Webber conspired to take the pole position for the penultimate round of the 2016 championship in Shanghai, China. This is Porsche's third pole position of the season (and 15th since the 919 Hybrid was introduced in 2014), having also started from the front at Spa and Le Mans. It is said that qualifying speed isn't necessarily indicative of in-race pace, and with 6 hours of fighting to happen Sunday, almost anything could happen. Then again, grabbing Pole is a morale booster for the drivers and the teams, and could influence the other teams to be a little downtrodden. In any case, the Bernhard/Hartley/Webber Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 will start from the lead, and the sister car of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, and Marc Lieb will star the race from 6th.
WEC qualifying requires and average of the two fastest laps of two drivers to set your qualitying time, so you not only need to be fast, but also consistent. In China the qualifying drivers were Hartley/Webber (car number 1, position 1, 1:44.462 minutes) and Jani/Lieb (car number 2, position 6, 1:45.051 minutes). Extra excitement came into play when the lap times of both the drivers who were at the wheel first were deleted. Brendon Hartley had his time disallowed for exceeding track limits in the final corner. Marc Lieb's time was scratched by slightly exceeding the allowed fuel consumption for a lap. Both drivers got another set of fresh tyres for their second attempt.
The race will be contested on the Chinese Grand Prix circuit in Shanghai on Sunday at 11:00 hours local time (11PM Eastern, 8PM Pacific Saturday night here in the US). It is possible that Porsche could decide one or more titles this weekend, depending on their performance, and the performance of the competition, during the course of the race. The weather this weekend promises to be "friendly" and conducive to flat-out racing.
Quotes after qualifying:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “To be back on pole position really feels nice and let’s us look optimistic for the race. The weather conditions should stay nice and friendly. Tomorrow we want to secure the manufacturers’ world championship title and get more points for our number 2 car to also bring it closer to the drivers’ world championship title.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “This was a good team performance and it is a rewarding feeling to start from pole position again. We knew from free practice that we would be fast on a single lap. Brendon and Mark responded perfectly to it. Sixth position for our number 2 car is not exactly what we expected, but we are convinced that we will have two fast race cars on the grid tomorrow. Today we saw a close fight between the three brands, and we think this will be the case for tomorrow’s six hour race as well.“
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 1
Brendon Hartley (26, New Zealand): “It all started pretty well. I went P1 on the first lap, but ran wide in the last corner, which resulted in the lap time being deleted. Mark did a mega lap to put us back into contention, and the pressure was back on for my final attempt. Awesome team effort to get the pole. Over the whole weekend we worked pretty hard on the car for the long runs. We feel pretty good for tomorrow, it will be a tight battle again.”
Mark Webber (40, Australia): “It was a really tight fight for pole position today and it is great we made it. Brendon did a really good job and our average time in the end is very strong. It seems the Toyota had a little bit of traffic on the last lap, so perhaps we have been a bit fortunate. However, we took a point away from the competition and this helps the sister car in its fight for the drivers’ title.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 2
Neel Jani (32, Switzerland): “Preparation for qualifying was not that easy for us, but I had the feeling the car had a proper grip level for the first time here and felt good. Of course it is a shame that we went down from provisional P1 to P6 on the grid, but we will make the best out of it in tomorrow’s race.”
Marc Lieb (36, Germany): “My first lap was cancelled, but it wasn’t good anyway. After Neel did his run I jumped back into the car and on my second lap unfortunately made two mistakes. Given how tight the competition is here, you cannot afford to do that. This is obviously disappointing, as the car had the potential to be right up the front.”