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Shanghai Thursday Notebook

Daniel Lloyd’s Thursday FIA WEC notebook from Shanghai International Circuit…

Photo: Joao Filipe/AdrenalMedia

***There have been some late additions to the 35-car entry list for round five of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

***James Rossiter and Tom Dillmann are in for ByKolles Racing this weekend alongside ‘Super Season’ ever-present Oliver Webb. Rossiter returns for his second appearance with the team after joining for the previous round at Fuji, while Formula E racer Dillmann has driven in each round except Silverstone.

***Dempsey-Proton Racing has also made some adjustments to the lineup it fielded in Japan. Nineteen-year-old Italian Riccardo Pera is a last-minute addition to the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR in place of Giorgio Roda, who is tied with business commitments. Additionally, Khaled Al-Qubaisi is with the team for his first WEC race since the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***WEC debutant Pera impressed during his first season with Ebimotors in this year’s European Le Mans Series, taking an emphatic pole at Monza and winning the Four Hours of Spa with Fabio Babini and Bret Curtis.

***Rebellion Racing LMP1 driver Thomas Laurent will drive for Arden International in the FIA Formula 2 Championship end-of-season test on Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans runner-up has described the call-up as a “huge opportunity.”

“I am very pleased to be given the chance to be behind the wheel of Arden’s single seater race car,” said Laurent. “This will be a first in my career. As a driver, it is always extremely exciting to discover a new car. I want to show the team my capacities and, with time, potentially take part in a program simultaneously to the WEC.”

***Preparations for next year’s WEC and IMSA double-header at Sebring are well underway. Construction work has begun on a new pitlane for the visiting WEC field which runs along the Ullman Straight, between Turns 16 and 17.

***A small number of series and team personnel were stranded in the Siberian city of Irkutsk for three days after their plane encountered mechanical problems. The Paris-Shanghai Air France flight included 13 members of Signatech Alpine, eight staff from Larbre Competition, and eight members of the WEC organization team.

***After the first plane was grounded, a second aircraft tasked with picking up the passengers then experienced a technical issue of its own, meaning the 282 on board didn’t arrive in Shanghai on a third plane until 60 hours after departing Paris. Teams around the paddock sprung into action to help the Signatech and Larbre crews set up on Wednesday and Thursday.

***SMP Racing’s Jenson Button arrives in Shanghai fresh from winning the Japanese Super GT championship last weekend. Button has had success on previous Formula 1 visits to Shanghai, winning in 2010 and finishing on the podium twice. Toyota’s Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, is a double Chinese Grand Prix winner with victories in 2005 and 2013.

***Toyota is the most successful LMP1 manufacturer at Shanghai with a victory for each of its TS030, TS040 and TS050 Hybrid models. The Japanese marque won the first edition of the Chinese six-hour race in 2012 before adding later victories in 2014 and 2017.

***Aston Martin, Porsche and Ford have each won back-to-back GTE-Pro races at Shanghai. Most recent winners Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell could take their third straight Chinese victory with their No. 67 Ford GT. The only other GTE-Pro driver to have won the same race three times in a row is Ferrari’s Toni Vilander, who scored successive victories in Bahrain between 2012-14.

***Toyota’s drivers geared up for the race weekend in unusual fashion by playing table tennis on the Shanghai pit straight.

***Corvette Racing is “planning all the contingencies” for a possible entry to the WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring, should an entry be pursued by General Motors. Team manager Ben Johnson told Sportscar365 that the Chevrolet factory squad is “waiting on information and making sure we’re prepared for whatever the decision is.”

***Corvette had its BoP weight increase for Shanghai taken away on Thursday because of a miscalculation.

***Free Practice 1 gets underway tomorrow with the 90-minute session starting at 11 a.m local time. There will also be a one hour, 45-minute Michelin tire test for LMP1 teams starting at 8 a.m., along with FP2 at 3:30 p.m.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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