Porsche Clinches WEC Title Despite Toyota Dominance at Shanghai
Porsche drivers Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard, and Earl Bamber took home second place in the six-hour race.
Toyota was able to take home its second-straight World Endurance Championship victory in Shanghai despite surrendering the overall title to Porsche for the 2017 season. A dominant first place result for the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Kazuki Nakajima was enough to take home the race win, but a crash by Jose Maria Lopez late in the contest allowed Porsche into the runner-up slot. This awarded Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard, and Earl Bamber the WEC Drivers' Title, clinching the championship with one race still to go.
The six-hour competition went largely in Toyota's favor with Porsche having a hard time matching speed throughout. Buemi's crew was exceedingly dominant from the start although Lopez suffered an initial crash in the first hour, eventually regaining his spot in second place. In the sixth and final hour, Lopez came in hot to the Shanghai International Circuit's second turn, lunging into the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR and resulting in costly damage. This opened up the spot for Porsche's No. 2 919 Hybrid crew despite falling a lap back earlier in the race.
“On my second stint, it was difficult with the tires," Lopez admitted. "Then I had the incident with the GT car. It was my fault for sure, but it's not an easy situation. I was going inside at turn 13; it's the kind of thing you do a few times every race and there is no problem. I will have a look at the video and learn from this to come back stronger.”
A ten-second penalty was also tacked onto Lopez' time as a result of the incident.
The No. 1 Porsche of Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy, and Neel Jani fell to a distant third place following an early-race issue that put them 80 seconds behind the lead. Although the team did not take home the Drivers' Championship, they did contribute to Porsche's third straight Manufacturers' title in its final year of WEC competition.
This also marks the second consecutive title for Hartley and Bernhard, making them the first in WEC history to claim such honors. It was Bamber's first taste of championship glory after a successful run at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Andreas Seidl, Porsche Team Principal, was quoted after the race saying:
“First of all congratulations to Toyota for a strong performance in today’s race. Congratulations also to Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley for the drivers’ championship. For sure it’s a sensational story to win all these titles and races three years in a row."
The efforts of Bruno Senna and his No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson awarded Valliante Rebellion its third LMP2 win in four races, pushing it ahead of Jackie Chan DC Racing in the class title hunt. A significant 35.280-second margin over the second place No. 36 car of Nico Lapierre allowed the team a four-point lead going into the ninth and final contest of the season at Bahrain later in November.
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