Preview – FIA World Endurance Championship: 4 Hours of Shanghai

by Alice Holloway
Toyota Gazoo Racing in Pitlane at Shanghai

The FIA World Endurance Championship grid extends to 31 cars for the 4 Hours of Shanghai as the LM GTE Am class sees its biggest entry outside of a 24 Hours of Le Mans event.

This race will be Rebellion Racing and Team LNT‘s best chances of taking a victory this season as the two Toyota Gazoo Racing cars have maximum success ballast.

Both Japanese entries sit over 40 points ahead of the last placed LMP1 car in the championship, but due to the success ballast regulations set before the season started the success ballast can not be applied for more than 40 points. This means that both Toyotas have the highest success ballast they can be given, making them nearly three seconds slower than the privateer LMP1 cars.

If Rebellion and Team LNT cannot keep up with the Toyotas when they are slowed by two seconds, it is unlikely they will be able to challenge the hybrid cars for victory during the rest of the 2019/20 season.

Jordan King makes his WEC return this weekend, taking Luca Ghiotto‘s seat in the #5 Ginetta. King has some WEC LMP2 experience, having competed with Jackie Chan DC Racing on three occasions last season, so will be looking to build on this. The second Team LNT car line up remains the same.

Cool Racing battling on track at Fuji Speedway
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

Job van Uitert was supposed to return to WEC this weekend, taking the place of Fritz van Eerd who has a business commitment that would prevent him from racing in Shanghai. However, after the team’s maiden win last time out in Fuji, van Eerd will be racing alongside Gideo van der Garde and Nyck de Vries. The duo of van Eerd and van der Garde currently lead the LMP2 standings, six points in front of the Cool Racing duo, who became the first pair to win the LMP2 class at Silverstone, Nicolas Lapierre and Antonin Borga.

Paul di Resta makes his return to the United Autosports team after being replaced by Oliver Jarvis in Fuji due to a DTM clash. For the first time this season, Jarvis does not appear on the entry list.

The three LM GTE Pro teams retain their driver pairs throughout the grid. Both Porsche GT Team and Aston Martin Racing have locked in one win a piece in the first two rounds, with AF Corse arguably losing what should have been their victory at Silverstone due to controversial penalties that were overturned after they had been served. It is certain that Ferrari will be looking to rectify this wrong this weekend and claim their first win of the season.

Aston Martin have had a small reduction in fuel allowance in this race’s BoP announcement, which may see the British team more conservative during their stints. In both Pro and Am, the Aston Martin-running teams will have a one-litre reduction in their fuel tank capacity. It is probable that the full effect of this, if there is one, will not be revealed until Sunday’s race.

Porsche GT Team leading Porsche GT Team on track at Fuji Speedway
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

The new Am car on the grid is a Porsche 911 RSR under the racing banner of Proton Competition. The entry, #78, will be piloted by Italian father-son duo of Philippe Prette and Louis Prette with 24-year-old French racer Vincent Abril. It has not been confirmed if this will be a one-off entry from the outfit or if the #78 will continue to race in this season.

The #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing has now confirmed that Will Bamber, brother of two-time Le Mans winner Earl Bamber, and Angelo Negro will join Thomas Preining in the car. This is the third different line-up that that car has had this season, meaning that no three drivers have been retained from race to race.

Entry list for the 4 Hours of Shanghai, 2019
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

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