The reigning world champions, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), took pole position for the eighth and penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Shanghai. The current championship leaders, Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE), will start sixth on the grid for the six-hour race on Sunday. Today’s pole is the third one this season for the Porsche 919 Hybrid, the around 900 HP strong hybrid racing car also started from P1 in Spa and in Le Mans.
Since its debut in 2014, the 919 now has 15 quickest times in qualifying to its tally, and eight of these were achieved by Bernhard/Hartley/Webber.
In the WEC the average of the two fastest laps of two drivers counts for the qualifying result. In China the qualifying drivers were Hartley/Webber (car number 1, position 1, 1:44.462 minutes) and Jani/Lieb (car number 2, position 6, 1:45.051 minutes). Extra excitement came into play when the lap times of both the drivers who were at the wheel first were deleted. For Brendon Hartley this was because of exceeding track limits in the last corner, for Marc Lieb the reason was slightly exceeding the allowed fuel consumption. Both drivers got another set of fresh tyres for their second attempt.
The six-hour race on the 5.451 kilometre long Chinese Formula One circuit starts on Sunday at 11:00 hrs (04:00 hrs in central Europe). In Shanghai early title decisions are possible. Continuing ‘friendly’ weather conditions promise tough and close racing until the very last minute.
The third free practice session in the morning went smoothly with Porsche’s two Le Mans prototypes coming third (car number 2, 1:44.913 minutes) and fifth (car number 1, 1:45.418 minutes).
Quotes after qualifying:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “To be back on pole position really feels nice and let’s us look optimistic for the race. The weather conditions should stay nice and friendly. Tomorrow we want to secure the manufacturers’ world championship title and get more points for our number 2 car to also bring it closer to the drivers’ world championship title.