Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Wurz dominated the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), ending the season with a third victory for Toyota Hybrid Racing in the Six Hours of Shanghai.
Despite the duo – and the Toyota TS030 Hybrid – only joining the WEC season at Le Mans in June, where they failed to score, the victory lifted them to third place in the final drivers’ standings at the expense of Rebellion Racing’s Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani, who dropped to fourth after a later problem.
Ahead of the Toyota duo in the points standings, but behind the them in the race, the WEC title was decided between the two Audi teams. Needing to beat their teammates comprehensively in the race Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen led the internecine battle throughout the race. However with the trio of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer enjoyed a trouble free run to third place, giving up only three points of the championship lead to secure the WEC title.
After winning in Brazil and Japan the Toyota team’s progress to victory was relatively easy, pulling away from the two Audis. However, the petrol-electric’s Achilles Heel remains fuel mileage and shorter stints would regularly see McNish and Kristensen’s charge assume the lead – in total for 20 laps over the first three hours before the Toyota’s cumulative lead became more than a single stop.
The shorter stints for the TS030 forced – as in Brazil and Japan – an extra pitstop compared to the chasing Audis. However, the superior pace of the Toyota meant that the 44 second visit to the pitlane Wurz returned for a final stint still with a minute in hand over Kristensen in second place. The final margin of victory was 58 seconds, Lotterer crossing the line 1:42 down on the lead, Wurz’s late pitstop ensuring the top three all finished on the lead lap on the 5.45km Shanghai International Circuit.
Fourth overall – and the best LMP1 privateer – were Harold Primat, Andrea Belicchi and Cong Fu Cheng in the #13 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota. It was a bittersweet result for the Swiss team, who were confirmed as LMP1 teams’ championship after the Six Hours of Fuji. Primat and Belicchi’s success – only their second privateer win of the year – was only after fighting past the JRM HPD in the final hour before transmission failure halted Prost in fourth place, leaving the top step of the privateer podium to their teammates.
Strakka Racing inherited the third step on the podium, completing a sequence of eight podiums in the eight WEC rounds despite a race in which the British team were twice forced to pit after being hit by other cars.
ADR-Delta secured second in the LMP2 championship with a dominant performance by John Martin, Tor Graves and Mathias Beche.
The decisive moment in the LMP2 race was a spin for Jacques Nicolet in the OAK Racing. Nicolet, the team’s ‘Am’ driver alongside Olivier Pla and Matthieu Lahaye had inherited a slender lead over the ADR-Delta entry. However, the spin, and the stint against the faster drivers for other teams saw Pla take back the car in fifth place in class, rallying to third over the course of a race ending triple stint in the Morgan-Nissan.
Starworks Motorsports finished second, 37 seconds down on the class winners. Pecom Racing – the team Martin, Graves and Beche needed to beat to secure second in the championship only finished fourth.
James Rossiter started the #32 Lotus car from the pole position he earned was an early factor in the battle for the class lead in the race before mechanical issues brought their race and season to a premature end just before the half way mark in the race.
Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke completed the first year back in the GT ranks for Aston Martin Racing with victory in LMGTE Pro, taking second place in the championship over Team Felbermayr-Proton, for whom regular drivers Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb finished second in class. The Aston and Porsche again had the measure of the Ferraris of AF Corse following the rebalancing of the class to close the season. Andrea Bertolini and Olivier Beretta were third for the Italian team while Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni retired their car with an oil leak.
The team of Patrick Bornhauser, Pedro Lamy and Julien Canal ensured Larbre Competition ended the year with the LMGTE Am title, the team coming to China with a healthy lead in the points over Team Felbermayr-Proton that meant merely a finish was likely to end with the title.
The two teams swapped the lead throughout the first half of the race before the Corvette squad took a stranglehold on the race to secure the title with a lap lead at the end of six hours. Krohn Racing completed the class podium, and finished third in the championship standings.