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FIA WEC

Shanghai Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from Shanghai…

Photo: Porsche

Photo: Porsche

***Despite Porsche locking up its second consecutive Manufacturers’ World Championship, the Drivers’ Championship will go down to the wire in two weeks’ time in Bahrain. Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb’s lead has been reduced to 17 points over Toyota’s Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayshi.

***Jani, Dumas and Lieb will need a fifth place overall finish or higher, or win the pole and finish sixth in Bahrain to be crowned World Champions. Remarkably, the No. 2 Porsche hasn’t finished on the podium since its victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

***While he still has one race remaining in his career, Mark Webber sprayed champagne for the final time on the podium on Sunday, following he, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard’s fourth win in the last five races. “If Bahrain goes well, it’s rose water,” he said. “I told the boys I want bloody champagne on the top step. We got it and it was good to be up there.”

***With Signatech Alpine clinching the LMP2 championship, Gustavo Menezes becomes the first American driver to win a FIA world title in 35 years. Bob Garretson claimed the FIA World Sports Car Championship in 1981, driving a Porsche 935.

***Sunday’s race saw an unusual amount of rubber buildup around the track. “I’ve never seen so many marbles out there on a track,” Toyota’s Anthony Davidson said. “There were massive chunks you had to avoid, even in a straight line. If you ran over them, either they got stuck in your bodywork and lost loads of downforce or you felt it rubbing on the bottom of the car lap after lap and felt like the suspension was breaking in half.”

***Toyota scored its first double podium finish since Shanghai 2014. It was the No. 5 car of Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima’s first top-three finish of the year after a dreadful season to date. Both cars took fuel-only on their final stops, in a strategic call that helped put the No. 5 car on the podium

***GTE-Pro is the closest title race heading into Bahrain, with Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim holding a 12-point lead over Sam Bird and David Rigon, and the Olivier Pla/Stefan Muecke and Gianmaria Bruni/James Calado pairings still mathematically in with a shot, both 21 points back.

***Ferrari extended its lead in the GT Manufacturers Cup to 10 points over Aston Martin, with Ford third but 39.5 points behind. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, meanwhile, is only two points out of the lead of the Teams’ Trophy, to the No. 95 Aston Martin.

***In GTE-Am, the post-race penalty for the No. 78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR has given the new-second-place No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia trio of Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and Francois Perrodo a 25-point lead over the No. 98 Aston Martin drivers.

***The AF Corse entry will need to just complete 70 percent of the race in order to win the title, leaving Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy’s championship hopes slim, despite scoring their fifth class win of the season on Sunday. “That was our big objective, to get out of here with the win and carry the fight to Bahrain. We’re doing that but it’s a big ask [for the title],” Dalla Lana said.

***Saturday’s GTE-Pro pole for the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT was the 250th pole for Roush Yates engines since 2004.

***The reported weekend attendance was 55,000 spectators, up from 46,000 from last year. The main grandstand was again packed for the start of the race.

***The FIA and ACO are set to meet with representatives from both Toyota and Porsche prior to next weekend’s race in Bahrain, to discuss the current situation in LMP1 following Audi’s withdrawal. No immediate measures are expected to be taken but there’s been talk of potentially adjusting the announced 2018 technical regulations, which had called for up to three hybrid systems and a new 10MJ hybrid subclass.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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