Seventh heaven for Toyota/Michelin at Fuji
Seven is a lucky number in Japan. It is also the number of times Toyota/Michelin has won its home round – the 6 Hours of Fuji – since the FIA World Endurance...
The 4 Hours of Shanghai – Round 3 of the 2019/2020 FIA World Endurance Championship – was won by the N°1 Rebellion R13/Michelin of Senna/Menezes/Nato. Second and third were the N°8 and N°7 Michelin-equipped Toyota Hybrids which were carrying ballast in keeping with the latest regulations. The LMGTE Pro and Am laurels went to Ferrari/Michelin and Aston Martin/Michelin respectively.
In the wake of their success at Silverstone and Fuji, the two Toyotas were handicapped by around two seconds a lap for Shanghai by so-called ‘success ballast’. For the first time in FIA WEC history (created in 2012), pole position failed to go to a hybrid LMP1 car. Instead, the N°1 Rebellion R13/Michelin was fastest in qualifying, ahead of LNT/Michelin’s brace of internal combustion-engined prototypes.
Rebellion’s Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norma Nato overcame a poor getaway to produce a consistent race for the Swiss outfit which went on to collect its second victory in the championship, and its first on the racetrack, since its win at Silverstone in 2018 resulted from a disqualification. The Toyotas ended up more than a minute adrift, but ahead of the N°5 and N°6 Ginetta G60/Michelins which were delayed by several penalties. The day’s fastest race lap was the work of Robertson whose 1m48.428s in the N°6 Ginetta was more than a second quicker than the best efforts of the Japanese cars.
The LMGTE Pro class saw another thrilling fight between Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche. Victory went to the N°51 Ferrari 488 Evo/Michelin (Pier Guidi/Calado), chased by the N°92 and N°91 Porsche 911 RSR/Michelins which nudged Aston Martin off the podium. It was Ferrari’s first FIA WEC success at Shanghai.
The LMGTE Am fight was marked by a number of tangles and won by the N°90 TF Sport-run Vantage/Michelin N°90 of Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam. It was joined on the podium by the N°57 Porsche/Michelin and N°98 Vantage/Michelin.
The N°38 Jota Oreca Gonzalez/Da Costa/Davidson came out on top in the LMP2 fight, while China’s Jackie Chan Racing (N°37 Oreca) came second, ahead of United Autosport’s N°22 Oreca/Michelin (Hanson/Albuquerque/Di Resta). All three cars finished on the same lap.
Unlike last season’s race which took place in torrential rain, conditions were perfect this time around, with air and track temperatures of 21°C and 30°C respectively. Shanghai is one of the hardest venues of the season for tyres due to its abrasive surface and long, tight turns, but Michelin’s latest Pilot Sport Endurance range delivered the same winning performance and longevity they showcased at Silverstone and Fuji.
Next round: 8 Hours of Bahrain (December 14).
2019 4 Hours of Shanghai – final positions:
1. Senna/Menezes/Nato (Rebellion R13-Gibson/Michelin), 125 laps
2. Buemi/Nakajima/Hartley (Toyota TS050 Hybrid/Michelin), +1m6.984s
3. Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez (Toyota TS050 Hybrid/Michelin), +1 lap
4. King/Hanly/Orudhzev (Ginetta G60-AER/Michelin), +1 lap
5. Roberston/Simpson/Smith (Ginetta G60-AER/Michelin), +2 laps
6. Gonzalez/Da Costa/Davidson (Oreca07-Gibson), +4 laps
7. Tung/Aubry/Stevens (Oreca07-Gibson), +4 laps
8. Hanson/Albuquerque/Di Resta (Oreca07-Gibson/Michelin), +4 laps
9. Laurent/Negrao/Ragues (Alpine A470/Michelin), +5 laps
10. Van Eerd/Van der Garde/De Vryes (Oreca07-Gibson/Michelin), +5 laps