Porsche has clinched the FIA World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship with 1-2 sweep in a wild wet-turned dry FIA WEC Six Hours of Shanghai.
Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley extended their lead in the drivers’ championship with their fourth consecutive overall win, outpacing Audi despite a strong tactical challenge from the title rival.
The No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid dominated the second half of the race, with Bernhard having retaken the lead from the sister No. 18 entry on Lap 100 and Webber controlling the gap over the pair of Audis in his closing double stint.
A spin by Romain Dumas with 1 hour and 20 minutes to go saw the Frenchman lose second to the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fassler, who along with the No. 8 Audi, clawed time back by being the first to switch to slick tires.
However, it wasn’t ultimately enough to catch the Porsches, as Webber took a 26.294-second victory over Dumas, whose gamble for fuel-only on the final stop saw the No. 18 Porsche leapfrog from fourth to second in the final 20 minutes.
Porsche’s fourth 1-2 sweep of the season was good enough for the German manufacturer to lock up the title one race early, marking its first FIA World Championship in nearly 30 years.
The Drivers’ World Championship, however, will go down to the season finale in Bahrain, with Webber, Bernhard and Hartley now holding a 12-point lead over Audi’s Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer, who finished third on Sunday.
Audi’s sister No. 8 entry of Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis were fourth, with the No. 2 Toyota TS040 Hybrid completing the top-five after trouble for the defending World Champions in the No. 1 car.
The No. 12 Rebellion R-One AER of Nico Prost and Mathias Beche claimed LMP1 Privateer class honors, despite a late-race crash by Beche, which damaged three corners of the car.
Beche managed to limp the car back to the pits for repairs, benefiting from the fourth and final Full Course Yellow of the race, to come out ahead of the No. 4 ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER by one lap.
Signatech Alpine, meanwhile, broke through to claim its first LMP2 class victory in series competition, with Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Tom Dillmann taking their Alpine A450b Nissan to top honors.
Dillman, in his WEC debut, edged out the class championship-leading No. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Sam Bird by 1 lap, with the sister No. 28 G-Drive entry of Ricardo Gonzalez losing third after spinning into the gravel on the final lap.
It promoted title rivals KCMG to the final podium position, having rebounded from an early race spin by Nick Tandy and an incorrect tire choice.
Richard Bradley and Matt Howson hold an unlikely, but mathematical chance of the title heading into Bahrain.
Pegasus Racing dominated the first half of the race with its Michelin-shod Morgan Nissan excelling in the wet conditions with Alex Brundle and Ho-Pin Tung but faded in the drying conditions en route to a fifth place finish in class.
The No. 30 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda was also an early contender, with Ryan Dalziel pitting from the class lead at the halfway mark but retired with gearbox failure in the fourth hour.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Shanghai