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Shanghai Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from 4 Hours of Shanghai…

Photo: Rebellion Racing

***Rebellion Racing’s victory in Sunday’s 4 Hours of Shanghai marked only the fourth overall win by a non-hybrid car in FIA World Endurance Championship history, and the first since the Franco-Swiss team’s inherited win at Silverstone 2018.

***Not counting that race, which saw a double post-race disqualification for Toyota due to a technical infraction, it was the first defeat on the road for the Japanese manufacturer since Circuit of The Americas 2017. 

***Bruno Senna became the first driver to win in all four WEC classes, with the Brazilian notching his 10th career victory.

***A quick call by Sebastien Buemi to go “badly on the brakes” at the start to not overtake pole-sitter Norman Nato paid off, with the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid one of only two LMP1 cars not to face a drive-through penalty for a jumped start.

“I was thinking maybe he had a problem or maybe not,” Buemi told Sportscar365. “If he did not have a problem and I passed him, I would have gotten a drive-through, so I thought it was better to brake.”

***Both management from Toyota Gazoo Racing and Team LNT, however, have questioned whether Nato’s slow start was done deliberately, with both Ginetta G60 LT-P1 AERs and the No. 7 Toyota handed penalties for passing Nato’s Rebellion R13 Gibson before the start line.

***With their second place finish, Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima have taken over the sole lead of the World Drivers’ Championship, and now sit three points ahead of teammates Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway.

***Rebellion’s win has put the team and drivers within 19 points of the leading Toyota, which will result in a larger success handicap penalty for the ORECA-built prototype heading into next month’s 8 Hours of Bahrain.

“Realistically we do know we’re going to suffer a ton with success handicap so we’re just going to do the best we can and see where we end up,” Gustavo Menezes told Sportscar365.

***JOTA’s LMP2 class win, the first for the team under its own banner since Spa 2015, marked the first win for a Goodyear-shod car in a FIA World Championship since Michael Schumacher and Ferrari in the 1998 Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix. 

***Mike McGregor, Goodyear’s manager for race sales, testing and track support, proclaimed it as a “historic” win for the American tire manufacturer in only its third race back in top-level sports car racing. “It’s been a tremendous multinational team effort to bring Goodyear back to international motorsport,” he said.

***United Autosports claimed its second consecutive LMP2 class podium despite being forced on an alternate strategy due to an early unscheduled pit stop for debris lodged inside the Gibson-powered Oreca 07’s engine box that resulted in a loss of power for Felipe Albuquerque. 

“Debris went in to the air intake on the opening lap and I lost power,” Albuquerque explained. “We took the right decision in deciding to wait rather than for me to immediately pit in terms of strategy and we still ended up putting in a fight for the win.”

***AF Corse has elected to appeal the exclusion of the GTE-Pro class-winning No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, which was found to have been under the 50 mm minimum ride height in post-race scrutineering.

***The Italian squad has alleged that splitter damage, caused by contact with another car during the race, led to the ride height discrepancy. No word has been given on when the FIA Court of Appeals will discuss the case.

***Nicki Thiim said it was “really hard to take” the dejection of suffering a puncture while in the GTE-Pro class lead that ultimately dashed hopes of an Asian sweep for the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which finished fourth.

***Thiim was 22 laps into his 32-lap second stint, with 70 minutes to go, when he was alerted to the tire problem as he passed the pits. The tire gave way on the back straight, ultimately leading to the FCY for debris and compromising strategies for both AMR-entered cars.

***Opening-lap contact between Paul Dalla Lana and the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Egidio Perfetti, who was handed a drive-through penalty, resulted in an impressive comeback drive by the Canadian from dead last to fourth during his stint. 

***TF Sport director Tom Ferrier credited Salih Yoluc’s “brilliant” two stints for delivering the team’s second consecutive GTE-Am class win. “To go from fourth to first and then lead by 25 seconds was just incredible,” Ferrier said.

***Yoluc, Jonny Adam and Charlie Eastwood have taken over the GTE-Am points lead, three points ahead of the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari trio of Emmanuel Collard, Francois Perrodo and Nicklas Nielsen, which headed into the weekend as points leaders and with the largest success ballast in class.

***Porsche’s Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, who have provisionally inherited the GTE-Pro class win, meanwhile, have extended their points lead in the GTE World Drivers’ Championship, maintaining a 1-2 for the German manufacturer.

***Christensen as well as No. 91 Porsche co-drivers Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni, flew from Shanghai to Sebring to join the CORE autosport-run IMSA factory team for testing with 2019-spec Porsche 911 RSR this week.

***WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said he has no concerns over the lack of announcements surrounding Aston Martin’s Hypercar program, stating that he envisions having at least six cars on the grid next season, taking into account the previously announced privateer efforts from ByKolles and Glickenhaus.

***Next season’s Prologue is expected to be placed “very close” to the season-opening round according to Neveu, which would allow teams additional development time in the summer months.

***Neveu said the appointment of John Doonan as IMSA’s new president has been a positive development and will help maintain and build a “very good” link to the U.S. sanctioning body. 

“This is a person we fully respect because we know him very well,” Neveu told Sportscar365. “And he has very good knowledge about Le Mans and has a real passion for this place so he knows the culture from the other side of the ocean.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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