Toyota Racing utterly dominated today’s 6 Hours of Shanghai, the eighth and final round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre finished a lap ahead of the No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen having led the way from the start.
However, it was also a day of celebration and smiles in the Audi garage. By crossing the finish line in third place, Andre Lotterer, Benoît Treluyer and Marcel Fassler scored enough points to capture the World Drivers’ Championship – the first for this new FIA championship. The trio made history in June by becoming the first hybrid powered car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and followed this with two further wins at the 6 Hours of Silverstone and 6 Hours of Bahrain.
Winning Toyota leads at the start
Just as Toyota today had a faultless race, so did Audi and nothing should be taken away from their 2012 season, as demonstrated by them sealing the LMP1 Manufacturers’ World Championship title as early as August.
While there was laughter and champagne at one end of the pit lane, there was heartbreak and tears at the other. LMP1 Privateer champions Rebellion Racing were on course to finish fourth overall with their No.12 Lola-Toyota entry of Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani, the duo having taken the lead after the third lap of the race. Instead, there was dismay as the car ground to a halt with just eight minutes of the race to run and Prost and Jani had to watch a third place overall in the Drivers’ Championship slip through their fingers. There was some consolation for the Swiss team as their second, No.13 entry was promoted to first among the Private teams, the only Chinese driver in the field Cong Fu ‘Frankie’ Cheng standing proudly on the podium alongside his team mates Andrea Belicchi and Harold Primat.
Behind them were the two HPD ARX 03a Hondas of JRM and Strakka Racing. JRM’s Karun Chandhok, David Brabham and Peter Dumbreck recovered from contact which meant the rear bodywork of the HPD had to be replaced during a pit stop, and they were just 8 seconds behind the Rebellion Lola at the checkered flag. Strakka’s Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane were a further three laps back after a faltering race.
The No.25 ADR-Delta team took their second consecutive victory and their fourth of the year – a huge achievement for the small, privately-funded British team which vaulted them ahead of Pecom Racing into second place in the final classification for the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 teams. ADR’s driver line up of Tor Graves and John Martin, joined in Shanghai by Matthias Beche, took control of the class early in the race and had a steady run to the finish. Behind them were the No.44 Starworks Motorsport HPD ARX 03b, the class champions, and the No.24 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan, both of which overcame minor issues to finish on the podium.
The 25,000 Chinese visitors over the first 6 Hours of Shanghai weekend were treated to their first Le Mans experience and the next visit on the 10th November 2013 will undoubtedly see even more fans travelling to the Shanghai International Circuit next year.
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