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Shanghai Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday notebook from Shanghai International Circuit…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***Toyota opted to complete qualifying on only a single set of Michelin tires for both of its cars as it knew it didn’t have a chance for overall pole, according to its technical director Pascal Vasselon. “In this case, we prefer to save one more set for the race,” he told Sportscar365.

***LMP1 teams are permitted 3.5 sets of tires between the qualifying and the race this weekend, leaving Toyota with 2.5 sets for the second four-hour race of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.

***The pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids qualified fourth and fifth, marking the first time the Japanese manufacturer didn’t start on pole since the 2017 season-ending round in Bahrain, when Neel Jani and Nick Tandy put the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid on pole for its final race.

***The Toyotas are running on maximum success handicap this weekend, representing a 45 percent reduction in hybrid power, 7.5 percent drop in fuel energy and 28 kg increase in minimum weight compared to last year. 

***Rebellion’s pole marked the first for a LMP1 non-hybrid since the inaugural WEC race at Sebring in 2012 when Andre Lotterer put an Audi R18 TDI on pole in the final race for the German manufacturer’s previous-gen prototypes.

***The two Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AERs have topped the speed traps by a significant margin so far this weekend, with Ben Hanley quickest overall at 314.9 km/h (195.66 mph) compared the fastest Toyota of Brendon Hartley at 289.5 km/h (179.88 mph). 

***Every LMP2 car has posted quicker speed traps than the Toyotas as well. 

***Two GTE-Am cars will face in-race penalties for not reducing speeds immediately during the Free Practice 3 session-ending red flag. The No. 78 Proton Competition Porsche will receive a ten-second penalty added to its first pit stop, with the No. 62 Red River Sport Ferrari 488 GTE getting five seconds on its stop, due to Philippe Prette and Charlie Hollings’ infractions, respectively. 

***Stewards found that Prette initially reduced the speed of his Porsche to 80 km/h before accelerating to 185 km/h when the red flag was deployed, while Hollings’ car accelerated for six seconds after the red came out.

***Questions over the status of the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo has run rampant in the paddock. Sportscar365 understands that the situation appears to have been improved in the last 24 hours, with a resolution expected in the coming days.

***Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden has reaffirmed the team’s plans to return to a two-car LMP1 operation for the final two rounds of the season, pending entry approval for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. No word has been given if the No. 3 car’s driver lineup of Pipo Derani, Nathanael Berthon and Loic Duval, will return.

***A number of Rebellion’s UK-based mechanics that have been let go as a result of the downsizing have found homes at Team Project 1 and JOTA this season.

***Paul Dalla Lana has yet to decide which GT Daytona program he will spearhead for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with options reportedly with AF Corse (Ferrari 488 GT3) and Aston Martin Racing (Aston Martin Vantage GT3). “There’s some decisions to be made this weekend,” he told Sportscar365.

***Aston Martin Racing managing director John Gaw told Sportscar365 that it takes “five guys five hours” to convert an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 into GTE specification, a feat the manufacturer undertook for a Michelin tire test at Portimao last month. 

***Dalla Lana, meanwhile, has been ruled out of defending his GT3 Pro-Am class win in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour due to the race clashing with the WEC’s round in Sao Paulo next year. 

***Vasselon said Toyota would be in favor of having an additional race on the 2020-21 WEC schedule, which has been discussed between the series organizers and teams in recent weeks. “One more race would be welcome, because one month between races is a bit too long,” he said.

***Will Bamber, who is making his WEC debut in the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche, claimed victory in the first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race of the weekend on Saturday. The Kiwi is the only driver pulling double-duty between the two series this weekend.

***UK track commentator Duncan Vincent is filling in for the usually ever-present Louise Beckett this weekend on pit lane duty for WEC TV. Coverage in the U.S. will be available both on the MotorTrend App and official WEC App, beginning  Saturday at 11 p.m. ET.

***Eurosport 1 will show all four hours of the race live on Sunday, with English-language coverage by Mark Cole and Tom Gaymor beginning at 4 a.m. UK time/5 a.m. CET. Click Here for the full broadcast schedule.

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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