Toyota has scored a dominant victory in Sunday’s Six Hours of Shanghai, with a costly error by Jose Maria Lopez ultimately giving Porsche enough points to clinch the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
A second place finish for Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, meanwhile, locked up the Drivers’ World Championship one race early.
The No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi took the win by one lap ahead of Bernhard, who inherited the Manufacturers’ Championship-clinching runner-up position following a late-race crash from the lead by Lopez.
The Argentinean overshot the entry into Turn 2, slamming into the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR and damaging the left-rear suspension and driveshaft. It cost Toyota a sure-fire 1-2 finish.
Lopez, who also spun in the opening hour after contact with a LMP2 car, finished seven laps behind in fourth after a trip to the garage for repairs from the final hour accident.
A ten-second post-race time penalty was added to the No. 7 Toyota for Lopez’s collision.
Up front, it marked Buemi and co-drivers Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima’s fourth win of the season and second straight after taking top honors in last month’s rain-shortened Six Hours of Fuji.
The No. 1 Porsche of Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and Neel Jani finished third, despite a throttle issue that saw Tandy nearly stop on track in the opening hour and drop more than 80 seconds behind.
Both Porsches struggled to match the pace of the Toyotas all race, with the No. 2 car falling a lap down by the fourth hour.
Bernhard and Hartley become the first-ever two-time World Champions in the WEC, with double Le Mans winner Bamber earning his maiden world title.
It also marked Porsche’s third consecutive drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships, in its final year of LMP1 competition.
Vaillante Rebellion claimed its third class win in the last four races, taking over the LMP2 championship lead as a result of a turbulent race for Jackie Chan DC Racing.
Bruno Senna pedaled the No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson to a 35.280-second margin over the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson of Nico Lapierre in second, following drama for the No. 38 DC Racing entry, which faded to fourth in the end.
Two costly spins for Ho-Pin Tung, both triggered by other cars that later received penalties, as well as a fuel-only stop in the final 30 minutes, took the Chinese squad out of contention in the race.
Senna and co-drivers Nico Prost and Julien Canal now hold a 4 point lead over Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent heading into the title-deciding Six Hours of Bahrain later this month.
The sister No. 13 Rebellion entry completed the class podium on Sunday, thanks to a late charge by Nelson Piquet Jr.
RESULTS: 6H Shanghai