Alex Wurz and Toyota Hybrid Racing set the pace as running got underway for the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The Austrian, co-driving with only Nicolas Lapierre in the #7 again, set the best time of the opening two practice sessions (1:50.573) for the Six Hours of Shanghai early in the second session. His time was over a second faster than Tom Kristensen in the #2 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, with Benoit Treluyer’s best lap in the #1 car another three tenths slower
Kristensen and co-driver Allan McNish shared both practice session, McNish the pilot for the majority of the opening session, Kristensen for the second session. It was McNish who paced the first 90 minute session, though 1:52.219 marker was surpassed by all three of the works backed hybrids in the second session.
The pace of the #2 car, beating the #1 in both sessions in a rare occurance this year, sets up an intriguing situation at the top of the WEC drivers’ standings where the two Audi line-ups are fighting for the honour of being the maiden WEC champions.
LMP1 privateer honours were decided in Japan – Rebellion Racing winning the championship with Strakka Racing second. Each team led one practice session, Strakka Racing the first practice, Rebellion, having last weekend added Petit Le Mans victory to their WEC title, the second session through Neel Jani.
James Rossiter was the fastest man in LMP2 for Lotus, his best time in the second session surpassing John Martin’s best time for ADR-Delta, which had been the early benchmark in the opening session.
Martin and the rest of the ADR-Delta team – Tor Graves and Mathias Beche – face a battle for second place in the WEC class standings, they and Pecom Racing beginning the final race of the year on equal points. Pecom – Nicolas Minassian, Luis Perez-Companc and Pierre Kaffer – were only sixth fastest in the day’s combined times. Starworks Motorsport, already confirmed as class champions were one place up the day’s standings in fifth.
Richard Lietz and Darren Turner were the fastest men in LMGTE Pro for Team Felbermayr-Proton and Aston Martin Racing and in the first and second sessions respectively. In line with the improvement across the board from one session to the next it was Turner’s time that was best in the class.
Marco Cioci was the fastest man in LMGTE Am, returning in the AF-Watrip Ferrari alongside Rui Aguas and Robert Kauffman. Larbre Competition and Team Felbermayr-Proton enter the weekend split by 20 points in favour of the French Corvette squad. In practice it was advantage Larbre, Pedro Lamy the fastest of the drivers for the two car team, the former Peugeot Sport driver exactly two tenths faster than Paolo Ruberti, leading the Porsche squad on the day’s timesheets.