The 6 Hours of Shanghai, penultimate round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship, could see Porsche and Michelin wrap up this year’s titles in the WEC’s premier class.
Porsche Team enjoys a 59-point lead in the Manufacturers’ table and could make sure of its second straight crown in China where the Michelin-equipped Porsche 919 Hybrids were dominant last season. There will be two cars this time around, for Bernhard/Webber/Hartley (N°1) and Drivers’ championship leaders Dumas/Jani/Lieb (N°2).
Audi, which recently announced its withdrawal from the WEC at the end of the year, will be keen on scoring its 108th prototype victory with its tyre partner Michelin since 2000. The make will be represented by two crews, namely Duval/Di Grassi/Jarvis (N°8 Audi R18/Michelin) and Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler (N°7).
Toyota Gazoo Racing will be looking to build on its recent victory on home soil at Fuji. Sarrazin/Conway/Kobayashi (N°6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid/Michelin) are currently second in the Drivers’ standings, while their Davidson/Buemi/Nakajima (N°5) will be hoping for a switch in their recent fortunes.
The fight for the LM GTE Pro titles is equally close, with Ferrari/Michelin three points clear of Aston Martin. Ford/Michelin is still in the running, too. AF Corse, which has never won at Shanghai, will have Michelin-equipped Ferrari 488s for Bruni/Calado (N°51) and Rigon/Bird (N°71).
The Italian outfit also tops the LM GTE Am Endurance Trophy with its N°83 Ferrari/Michelin and could secure the title this weekend. The N°98 Aston Martin/Michelin is on a run of three straight victories, however. In LM P2, Signatech-Alpine could wrap up the Teams’ and Drivers’ crowns in Shanghai, as well, with its N°36 prototype and Menezes/Lapierre/Richelmi.
Shanghai International Circuit (5.451km), which has hosted the FIA WEC since 2012, features two long straights, several fast curves and three particularly tight turns (1, 6 and 14). Engineers consequently look essentially for good top speed and stability under braking. Finding the ideal aero balance can be complex and tyre choices are dependent on the chosen settings. There can be significant rear tyre wear because of the frequent hard acceleration from low speed, and the front-left covers also face a hard time.
Free practice will start on Friday, November 4, followed by qualifying early Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s race will start at 11am local time and a field of 32 cars is expected.