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Shanghai Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from FIA WEC paddock in Shanghai…

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 31 cars are here for this weekend’s 4 Hours of Shanghai, although Thomas Preining’s co-drivers in the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR have yet to be finalized, according to team principal Christian Ried.

***Ried told Sportscar365 that a deal with Will Bamber, brother of two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Earl, is “very close” to being confirmed, with the Silver-rated Kiwi having been spotted in the team’s pit box. The Bamber brothers are here this weekend primarily for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season finale, where EBM is fielding a total of five cars.

***Proton’s No. 78 Porsche 911 RSR, a one-off entry for the all-Monegasque lineup of Philippe and Louis Prette and Vince Abril, was confirmed for Shanghai prior to the falling through of a full-season lineup for the No. 88 car, according to Ried.

***While having been on a race-by-race basis, Ried said they are working to secure a lineup for the No. 88 car for the 2020 calendar year that would include the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Other driver changes since the second round of the season at Fuji include the return of Paul Di Resta to the No. 22 United Autosports Oreca 07 Gibson, Jordan King set for his LMP1 debut in the No. 5 Team LNT Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AER and Larry ten Voorde in for Felipe Fraga in the No. 67 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.

***Porsche Supercup driver ten Voorde, who drove for the German squad in the single-make series in 2018, is set to sub for Fraga in next month’s 8 Hours of Bahrain as well, due to Fraga’s Stock Car Brasil series commitments.

***This weekend’s event will mark the first time Goodyear tires have been used in a FIA World Championship race in China.

***Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung, however, has previous Goodyear experience in China, having become the first driver to reach the top of Tianmen Mountain in a road-going SUV in 2018, at the wheel of a Goodyear-shod Range Rover Sport.

“Driving the 999 steps was a novel way to begin working with Goodyear,” Tung explained. “In an LMP2 car at Shanghai, we need the same focus and confidence in the tire.”

***Six teams, comprised of 12 drivers, took part in a game of jianzi, a traditional Chinese national sport in which players aim to keep a weighted shuttlecock in the air by using their bodies, apart from the hands. The competition was won by United Autosports.

***Several drivers, including Brendon Hartley, Gianmaria Bruni and Marco Sorensen. meanwhile, took to the 3.88-mile Shanghai International Circuit on road bikes alongside Chinese cyclist Wang FangZhou, who is set to take part in the Shanghai Critérium, the country’s version of the Tour de France, next week. 

***Defending GTE world champion and current points leader Kevin Estre is set for a busy three-week stretch of races, as the only driver set to take part in the 4 Hours of Shanghai, FIA GT World Cup in Macau and Kyalami 9 Hour, all on consecutive weekends. 

***United Autosports was among several WEC teams that took part in a Michelin tire test at Portimao last week, following the European Le Mans Series season finale at the Portuguese circuit.

***John Falb and Kay van Berlo turned laps in one of United’s ELMS-based Oreca 07 Gibsons during the three days of total testing that also saw Aston Martin Racing in action with a Vantage GTE converted from Beechdean’s GT3-spec car used in the Michelin Le Mans Cup race that weekend.

***Both the Ligier JS P320 and Duqueine D08 LMP3 cars were also in action at the test, with United understood to be finalizing plans for the purchase of up to six new-gen Ligiers for 2020.

***Proton will become among the first customers of Porsche’s 911 RSR-19 for the 2020-21 WEC season, with Ried confirming to Sportscar365 that four cars are on order for his team, two allocated for WEC competition and two for the ELMS, where it will become eligible beginning with the 2021 season.

***Among the five EBM Porsches in the Carrera Cup Asia this weekend is a car for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA race-winner Riley Dickinson. The 17-year-old American is making his international racing debut, in what Earl Bamber characterized to Sportscar365 as a good “test run” for the rising star.

***Moorespeed team owner David Moore, who fielded Dickinson this year in GT3 Cup Challenge USA, is also on-site this weekend for added support.

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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