Toyota’s Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez took their second consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship victory in a wet and wild race at Shanghai.
After a red flag affected opening half due to poor weather, Sunday’s six-hour contest opened up as conditions improved in the final three hours.
Conway crossed the line 1.419 seconds ahead of team-mate Kazuki Nakajima after a late-race safety car bunched up the two Toyota TS050 Hybrids.
Nakajima closed the gap to Conway in the penultimate stint, shaving the margin down from half a minute to 18 seconds at the final round of pit stops.
The Japanese driver was then rewarded for his efforts when Matevos Isaakyan’s No. 17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER spewed debris across the track after hitting the barriers on the straight before the final corner.
That brought Nakajima to within three seconds of Conway, but he couldn’t find a way past in the closing stages.
The No. 8 Toyota led early on after Buemi benefited from Lopez running wide at the Turn 14 hairpin, but the positions switched back under a safety car period when Alonso was delayed by a red light at pit exit.
Alonso, who had slipped to third, restored the Toyota 1-2 by sweeping past Mikhail Aleshin in the No. 11 SMP Racing BR1 during hour five, before handing over to Nakajima for the run to the flag.
Aleshin, Jenson Button and Vitaly Petrov completed the podium, which was their first of the season, after Petrov resisted a late threat from Andre Lotterer in the best of the Rebellion R13 Gibsons.
Rebellion’s sister car hit trouble early on when Thomas Laurent crashed under the safety car before the race was red flagged for the first time.
In LMP2, Jackie Chan DC Racing claimed victory on home soil with its No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson driven by Gabriel Aubry, Stephane Richelmi and Ho-Pin Tung.
Aubry had several GTE-Pro cars between himself and DragonSpeed’s Roberto Gonzalez at the final restart, giving the Frenchman enough of a buffer to maintain his lead.
Gonzalez held on to take second in the No. 31 Oreca shared with Pastor Maldonado and Anthony Davidson, while the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A470 Gibson completed the podium.
Alpine snatched the final top-three spot after Loic Duval pitted the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca on the final lap.
New Aston Martin Takes First Win
Aston Martin’s new-generation Vantage GTE chalked up its maiden global victory in a dramatic GTE-Pro battle.
Marco Sorensen, who shared the No. 95 car with Nicki Thiim, finished ahead of the two Porsche 911 RSRs driven by Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen.
Aston Martin had initially been set for a 1-2 but the Porsches closed in on Maxime Martin in the No. 97 Vantage during the final two stints, before getting past.
The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE finished fifth, ahead of the best of the MTEK-run BMW M8 GTEs.
GTE-Am class honors went to the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR of Matt Campbell, Julian Andlauer and Christian Ried.
Proton was set for a 1-2 sweep until the final lap when Joerg Bergmeister moved the Team Project 1 Porsche ahead of Matteo Cairoli.
RESULTS: 6H Shanghai