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Shanghai Post-Race Notebook

Daniel Lloyd’s post-race notebook from Six Hours of Shanghai…

Photo: BMW

***Sebastien Buemi felt he and co-drivers Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima were hard done by on Sunday. The trio finished second behind the sister No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway after losing its lead when Alonso was delayed at the end of the pit lane by a red light during a safety car period.

“We had a very fast car, so we are disappointed not to win,” said Buemi. “Clearly it’s not been two good races for us. I have no regrets on Fuji because we were fully slower and they [No. 7 crew] fully deserved the win, but today I was disappointed because I felt that we were clearly quicker.”

***The result brings the No. 7 crew up to five points behind Buemi, Alonso and Nakajima at the top of the LMP World Endurance Drivers’ Championship. In third is the No. 3 Rebellion Racing crew, 29 points off the leading Toyota entry.

***TDS Racing lost a nailed-on LMP2 podium because it needed to meet a drive-time requirement. Loic Duval was running third when he came into the pits on the penultimate lap to hand over to Francois Perrodo, who needed to complete an extra 50 seconds to fulfil his minimum quota of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

***TDS team principal Xavier Combet said: “Unfortunately, he [Perrodo] did not have enough fuel in the car to complete his minimum driving time. When Loic took over, we knew that we would have to get back out with Francois.”

***Signatech Alpine’s Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao assumed third to extend their 100 percent podium record into the first five races of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championshio season. The only other drivers who still hold a perfect podium streak are GTE-Pro points leaders Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre.

***Visibility issues were a common talking point amongst drivers, as persistent rain combined with low clouds and constant winds to create challenging conditions. GTE-Am class winner Matt Campbell said, “you just couldn’t see anything going into turn one.”

***Buemi, meanwhile, felt the organizers could have shifted the start time of Sunday’s race to allow for more green-flag running. “It was too cautious at the start clearly,” he said. “We could have started before and not have red flagged it. But I understand you are always more clever after [the race].”

***A total of 3 hours and 17 minutes of racing time were lost under two red flags and numerous saftety car periods.

***Sunday marked the first time that Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have shared a race podium since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

***Button said that SMP Racing had the edge over Rebellion in the wet: “It did seem that way,” he said. “They [Rebellion] seemed a bit quicker [in drying conditions]. I think it’s because we were able to get heat easier in the tires than them, but we also overheat the tires easier. On a long stint, I think they’re quicker than us towards the end, and we’re quicker at the beginning.”

***Button’s teammates both ended multi-year sports car podium droughts at the weekend. Shanghai marked Mikhail Aleshin’s first in three years, with his most recent being at the Four Hours of Estoril in 2015, driving an Oreca 03 Nissan. Vitaly Petrov’s last sports car podium came at same race the following year in an SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan.

***Some daylight has been established between the top three teams in the LMP2 standings after they arrived in China just a point apart. Victory for Gabriel Aubry, Stephane Richelmi and Ho-Pin Tung has given them a 10-point advantage over Signatech Alpine’s Lapierre, Thiriet and Negrao, while the all-Malaysian crew of Weiron Tan, Jazeman Jaafar and Nabil Jeffri is now 14 points off the top spot.

***A double podium for Porsche means it continues to lead both the GTE drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. In the latter, the German marque now has a 76-point cushion over Ford, which in turn is just three points ahead of Ferrari.

***Following the deletion of Dempsey-Proton Racing’s pre-Shanghai points, coupled with a second-place finish, Team Project 1’s Joerg Bergmeister, Egidio Perfetti and Patrick Lindsey now hold a 20-point swing over Aston Martin Racing’s Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda in GTE-Am.

***Qualifying for the Shanghai Le Mans eSports series round took place online during the race weekend. The round itself, which will see the top qualifiers compete for entries to the grand final at Le Mans next year, takes place between Nov. 20-30. on a virtual renditions of Yas Marina Circuit, as Shanghai is not available in Forza Motorsport 7.

***Next up for the WEC is the 1000-mile race at Sebring Raceway on Mar. 13-15. Immediately following the Six Hours of Shanghai, teams quickly started boxing up their equipment for the Pacific leg of the championship’s sea freight schedule, which leaves this week.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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