One more race and then it’s all done for Porsche’s LMP1 project. Only four years after returning to the top echelon of sportscar racing, the people from Weissach call it quits–but at least going out winning the FIA World Endurance Championship title. Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley’s mid-season four-race win streak and podium appearances in all other races but one was enough to clinch the WEC title in Shanghai.
Toyota went at it in China with full force. It was their last hope for victory in the championship. Pole position and a dominant display up until the final hour gave the Japanese brand some hope to cling onto, but they’d have to rely on any setbacks Porsche might endure. Instead, the opposite occurred: trailing the leading Toyota TS050 Hybrid, José Maria Lopez smacked his own Toyota into the side of Richard Lietz’s Porsche 991 RSR who at the time was putting the pressure on eventual winner Harry Tincknell in the Ford GT shared with Andy Priaulx.
Lopez’s unforced error brought an end to Toyota’s title aspirations as it moved both Porsche 919 Hybrids up a place to score enough points to not only take the drivers’ championship but the manufacturers’ title as well. Toyota’s lead-car with Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima behind the wheel did celebrate victory–a bittersweet win as the 25 points couldn’t prevent Porsche from wrapping up both championships.
Despite being crashed into by the Toyota LMP1, Lietz and teammate Fred Makowiecki recovered without losing a place, taking the chequered flag in second place, behind Ford’s Tincknell and Priaulx. With AF Corse Ferrari’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi scoring third, the Italian brand did wrap up the world championship for GT manufacturers, but lost ground to the Ford and Porsche drivers in the GT World Endurance Drivers’ Championship as the title hunt goes into the final race.
Photos by Haoyü Wang.