Porsche LMP1 trio Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard, and Brendon Hartley could secure the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship drivers championship this weekend in Shanghai if they take at least third place.
The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid crew currently have 172 points, 39 points ahead of the Toyota Gazoo Racing duo of Sébastien Buemi, and Kazuki Nakajima. The third driver of the #8 Toyota, Anthony Davidson has 118 points after missing the WEC round at Circuit of The Americas.
Earl Bamber is keen to get back on track in Shanghai, a circuit that is very familiar to him from his early Porsche career, “To me Shanghai is a very good place to race and close to my home town of Kuala Lumpur as well.” said Bamber.
“I have raced many times in Shanghai. Good memories are closely connected to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia that will be the support race for the WEC. This is where I started my Porsche career. Winning the championship in 2013 and 2014 helped to get me promoted as a works driver and soon after to LMP1. The Cup is family to me.”
“My 23-year old brother Will is currently doing well in the championship and it will be nice to see him racing.” added Bamber. Will Bamber is currently in the hunt for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship and is one of three drivers that could take the title.
“Also this season I have been coaching six junior drivers and it will be good to take them to the LMP1 team and show them what we do. However, for us in Shanghai, the most important thing is to perform a good race and work on the championship title.” added the double 24 Hours of Le Mans winner.
Timo Bernhard is looking forward to the mixture of high speed and technical challenges that the Shanghai circuit brings, “I’ve always enjoyed the Shanghai circuit because of its various elements; for instance the long back straight and the middle sector with its high demands on driving technique.
“Also the track suits our Porsche 919 Hybrid. In 2015 and 2016 respectively we won there and took the title for Porsche. These are great memories and now we want to put in another good performance there.”
Brendon Hartley returns to the wheel of the 919 Hybrid after two outings in the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula 1 car, “It’s a busy time for me at the moment and I feel really good and excited.” said the New Zealander.
“The most important thing is to focus on the very next target. In Shanghai, together with Earl and Timo, we definitely want to secure the drivers’ world championship title with our Porsche 919 Hybrid.
“The most recent six-hour race in Fuji didn’t bring the results we were aiming for. Shanghai is a circuit that should suit our car and we have to have everything lined up there perfectly.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of Porsche LMP1 added, “After three consecutive Le Mans overall wins we also want to get both world championship titles for the third time after 2015 and 2016.
“This would be the crown of our LMP1 programme and this is what we are aiming for. At the most recent six-hour race in Japan, we had our first match point but we didn’t succeed. Instead we lost ground to our competitor Toyota. In Shanghai we’ve got our next chance. To stay fully focussed remains our top priority.”