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Shanghai Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Shanghai, site of this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship race…

Photo: John Dagys

***This weekend’s Six Hours of Shanghai sees changes to two driver lineups since the last round at Fuji, with Nico Mueller and Leo Roussel now in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson and Khaled Al Qubaisi making his first WEC start since the 24 Hours of Le Mans and first with Gulf Racing’s Porsche 911 RSR.

***It marks the second consecutive race Mike Wainwright has missed, due to business commitments, although the Bronze-rated Englishman is expected to be back for Bahrain. Mike Hedlund filled in for Wainwright at Fuji.

***All three of Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Asian Le Mans Series cars are on-site (pictured above), fresh off last weekend’s season-opener in Zhuhai, which saw the team’s No. 8 Oreca 05 Gibson of Thomas Laurent, Stephane Richelmi and Harrison Newey claim a dominant win. Alternator issues, meanwhile, resulted in an early retirement for the No. 7 car of David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung.

***The majority of the Jota Sport-run crew also came direct from Zhuhai and have a busy few months ahead, in completing the WEC season in Bahrain, the three remaining Asian Le Mans events at Fuji, Buriram and Sepang, as well as a likely two-car effort for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***Porsche is likely to clinch both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ World Championships this weekend. With a 39-point lead, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber will need to only finish third or better, even if Toyota scores maximum points with a 1-2 finish. A similar scenario exists in the manufacturer’s title race, with Porsche needing to leave China with a 44-point advantage. It currently holds a 58.5-point lead over Toyota.

***While the majority of the tracks on the calendar have been new for Jose Maria Lopez, the Argentinean has prior experience and success at Shanghai, having won three of his six races in FIA WTCC competition at the circuit, and finishing second in the others. “It’s good that I know the track because it allows me to adapt quicker and be fully prepared,” he said.

***Manor’s LMP1 effort will likely begin as a single-car operation, according to team principal John Booth, who confirmed they’ve placed an order for a single Ginetta LMP1. It confirms that the British squad is not the undisclosed customer Ginetta had previous announced that had purchased three of its cars. 

***Booth said he hopes to finalize the team’s driver lineup by the end of next month, with its existing LMP2 drivers in the mix. “It would be nice to do it before Christmas,” he told Sportscar365. “We’ve got some good guys here. It would definitely be a possibility.”

***Confusion over Henrik Hedman’s eligibility for LMP1 is likely to be sorted with the Bronze-rated driver’s expected elevation to Silver status for next year. Hedman was confirmed as part of DragonSpeed’s lineup for 2018/19, despite Bronze-rated drivers not being eligible for LMP1 competition.

***Aston Martin’s new Vantage GTE, first revealed on Sportscar365 in September, is expected to be formally announced and unveiled later this month. At least one driver change is set to be made to the British squad’s GTE-Pro lineup.

***Aside from the new Aston Martin and BMW M8 GTE, Ferrari will debut an updated 488 GTE next year, with the Italian manufacturer having opted to utilize its “Evo” allowance. Ford, meanwhile, has elected not to use its Evo for the Ford GT, despite having considered an update package that would have included a different-sized turbo, according to an industry source.

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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