The trio of Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) qualified in second position. Championship leaders Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) had to be satisfied with qualifying fourth. At the end of the 20-minute qualifying session, a puncture prevented Bamber from a further attempt to improve. Championship rival Toyota took pole position and the race on Sunday is expected to be a close affair.
Qualifying drivers this time were Lotterer and Tandy for car number 1. The average of their best lap times was 1:43.272 minutes on the 5.45 kilometre long Grand Prix circuit. Bamber and Hartley qualified the car number 2 Porsche 919 with an average lap time of 1:43.497 minutes. Tandy was the fastest of the Porsche drivers with a lap time of 1:42.966 minutes. Drivers Neel Jani and Timo Bernhard were not on duty today. In the third free practice session in the morning, the respective qualifying drivers finished third and fourth.
Saturday saw Shanghai in bright sunshine with an ambient temperature of around 16 degrees Celsius. Race day is also expected to be dry. The six-hour race will start at 11:00 hrs local time (04:00 hrs in Central Europe).
Quotes after qualifying
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “In a qualifying that went without technical problems for us we managed grid positions on first and second rows. I’m sure we can look forward to our penultimate race because on long runs we perform on a similar level as Toyota. Our aim is still to defend both World Championship titles.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “The team and the drivers combined to achieve good progress with the car since Friday. However, in qualifying we didn’t get it all together and now have to accept positions two and four. Rows one and two certainly are not bad to start the race from, especially as it wasn’t the number 8 Toyota, our strongest rival in the battle for the drivers’ title, that took the one championship point for pole position. We do expect a very, very close fight tomorrow. The perfect tyre call at the right time could make the difference. Now we will painstakingly prepare for tomorrow and enjoy the penultimate WEC entry of the Porsche 919 Hybrids.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 1:
André Lotterer (35, Germany): “To start second on the grid is good for tomorrow’s race. Initially we wanted to fight for pole position, but the Toyota was really strong. Nick did a good lap before I jumped into the car. My first lap was deleted because of track limits. On my second attempt I had less traffic and could improve, despite the tyres not being in ideal conditions anymore.”
Nick Tandy (32, Great Britain): “It is obviously good to be on the front row and have a clear look at turn one at the start. We don’t like the fact that we are behind one Toyota but the good thing is we are in front of the other. It is clear that it will be a big fight and a tough race between the four LMP1-H cars. We look forward to it and congratulations to Toyota for today.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2:
Earl Bamber (27, New Zealand): “I made a mistake on the out lap and spun the car. That destroyed the tyre set and then I got a puncture. So I couldn’t complete a good lap. Sorry to Brendon, Timo and the Team!”
Brendon Hartley (27, New Zealand): “I did okay. I had a pretty scrappy first lap but my second lap was actually very good without the peak of the tyre. I was happy and we were in the mix for pole position. Unfortunately something happened on Earl’s out lap and he couldn’t do a proper lap in the end. I would have liked to be on pole position. It was definitely on the cards today, the car was very quick, but I think it is going to be a good fight tomorrow.”
The Porsche 911 RSR tackles Sunday’s six-hour race at the Shanghai International Circuit from the first grid row. In qualifying for the penultimate round of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC, Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) clocked the second quickest time in the GTE-Pro class with the 510 hp racer with the starting number 92. On the 5.541-kilometre Grand Prix circuit on the outskirts of the Chinese economic metropolis, the pair narrowly missed out on posting their second pole position of the season after the Nürburgring by just two-tenths of a second. Setting the seventh fastest time in the second 911 RSR (#91) fielded by the Porsche GT Team, Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) face a pursuit race. Recently in Fuji, the two started from pole position.
In the GTE-Am class, a 911 RSR also takes up the race from the first grid row. The Porsche customer team, Dempsey Proton Racing, with the leaders of the FIA Endurance Trophy, Matteo Cairoli (Italy), Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst (both Germany), repeated their Fuji qualifying result and clinched the second grid spot. In this category, Porsche customer squads field 2015-spec 911 RSR.
Quotes after qualifying
Dr. Frank-Steffen Wallser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “That was another tough fight for the pole. Michael turned a perfect lap with the number 92 car, and Kévin brought it safely home. We’re very pleased with the first grid row and we’re feeling confident for the race. It’s a shame that Fred’s fastest lap with #91 was discounted. The championship is also still wide open in the GTE-Am class. The drivers and the crew from Dempsey Proton Racing are in contention for the title and they have to take as many points as possible from Shanghai to the season finale in Bahrain. Everything is possible from second on the grid.”
Michael Christensen (911 RSR #92): “That was an almost perfect lap without any mistakes. I managed to get the tyres precisely at their peak. That’s why I came in immediately afterwards, because it wouldn’t have been possible to turn a faster lap.”
Kévin Estre (911 RSR #92): “Michael drove a fantastic lap. Unfortunately mine wasn’t perfect. A Ferrari got in my way as it exited the pit lane and that cost me two to three tenths. In the race, we want to try to take the lead at the start. In doing this, we should also be far up the front at the end.”
Richard Lietz (911 RSR #91): “It was actually a good lap. I was very happy with our 911 RSR. It’s not the best starting position, but we have six hours to work our way up the field in the race.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #91): “I made a mistake in my first fast lap. I was too far over the edge and my lap was discarded. So I had to try again, but the tyres were past their peak. Still, we have a good car for the race. That’s why I’m confident – even though overtaking will be very difficult for us on this track.”
1. Thiim/Soerensen (DK/DK), Aston Martin, 1:59.697 minutes
2. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.219 seconds
3. Calado/PierGuidi (I/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 0.550
4. Priaulx/Tincknell (GB/GB), Ford GT, + 0.602
5. Mücke/Pla (D/F), Ford GT, + 0.635
6. Rigon/Bird (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 1.057
7. Lietz/Makowiecki (A/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 1.086
8. Turner/Adam (GB/GB), Aston Martin, + 1.474
1. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CAN/P/A), Aston Martin, 2:02.357 minutes
2. Ried/Cairoli/Dienst (D/I/D), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.408 seconds
3. Flohr/Castellacci/Molina (CH/I/E), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 0.735
4. Mok/Sawa/Griffin (MYS/J/IRL), Ferrari 488 GTE, + 1.230
5. Barker/Foster/Al Qubaisi (USA/GB/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, + 14.673
TV and live streaming
The race starts on Sunday at 11.00 hrs local time (04.00 hrs CEST). The complete race can be viewed free-of-charge via live streaming from 03.30 to 10.30 hours on www.sport1.de, as well as on pay-TV on Motorsport.TV from 03.45 to 10.15 hrs. The TV channel Sport 1 televises a live broadcast from 06.00 to 08.00 hrs as well as the finish at 10.30 hrs. Eurosport telecasts live from 08.30 to 10.15 hrs. The FIA WEC app is free in its basic version, and offers live streaming of the complete race as well as the time-keeping for a fee.
The official WEC App can be downloaded free of charge with an extended (not free of charge) version available which includes full live streaming and full timing. The live stream is voiced by the FIA WEC TV team including live interviews from the pits.
The WEC races can be followed on various international TV channels around the world. For details click here: https://tinyurl.com/y7n9amhn