It was a banner day for Aston Martin Racing, which claimed its fourth GTE-Pro class victory of the season, resulting in a swing in the title race following the Saturday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Shanghai.
The No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke took a lights-to-flag win, with the German driver edging out the sister No. 99 entry of a hard-charging Bruno Senna by just 0.568 seconds.
While leading from the pole, the No. 97 entry bridged out a nearly 25 second gap early but closed up in the latter stages of the race, thanks to a hard-charging Senna, although having to settle for second place with co-drivers Pedro Lamy and Richie Stanaway.
AMR’s 1-2 sweep in the penultimate round of the season was enough for the British manufacturer to take over the lead in the drivers, teams and manufacturers’ championships heading into the season finale in Bahrain in three weeks’ time.
“The target was the third place car, the Ferrari, and pacing ourselves to that,” Turner said of their title chase. “We sort of could see where we were with those guys and just made sure we made no mistakes and didn’t push the car too hard and put ourselves in a position where we’d be on the back foot.
“Overall, it’s nice being in that position towards the end of the race where we weren’t having to worry too much about the competition because there was that gap.”
The No. 91 Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet completed the podium after a late-race stop for the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari of Toni Vilander, who was running in third but dropped to fifth, behind its title-contending No. 51 entry of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella.
GTE-Am class honors went to the No. 81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italia of Enzo Potolicchio, Rui Aguas and Davide Rigon, which claimed a commanding 1-lap class victory.
The American-entered machine took over the lead with 2 hours and 20 minutes remaining when the then-leading No. 95 Aston Martin of Kristian Poulsen ground to a halt on-track.
It marked 8Star’s second class victory of the season and pulled the team to within five points of the lead in the teams’ championship.
The No. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Raymond Narac, Jean-Karl Vernay and Markus Palttala came home second, ahead of the No. 96 Aston Martin of Jamie Campbell-Walter, Stuart Hall and Jonny Adam.
Campbell-Walter and Hall retain the class lead, although reduced to five points over Narac and Vernay heading into the season finale in Bahrain.