Toyota dominated another race of the 2018/19 World Endurance Championship Superseason, but it wasn’t a race without complications, for the #8 car…
The race was initially halted due to heavy rain. However, the race got underway behind the Safety Car, only 10 minutes after the initial start, which was scheduled for 4:00 CET.
After a few laps behind the Safety Car, it was green flags running, but it lasted only for four laps, due to one of the Aston Martin’s being beached in the gravel, near the pit entry. Red flags followed soon after.
While the race was under green flags, José María López, driving the #7 Toyota, lost the lead to the sister #8 car, driven by Sebastien Buemi, after running wide at the hairpin in turn 14.
Racing resumed once more, with five hours left in the 6 hours long race.
Both Toyota’s pitted for the first time at the end of lap 28, nearing the 3 hour mark, Fernando Alonso took over the #8 car, while Kamui Kobayashi took over the sister car. The #8 car was the lead Toyota at this point.
Fernando Alonso stretched out the gap to Kamui Kobayashi to a stunning 32 seconds, before another Safety Car interrupted the race.
When Kazuki Nakajima and Mike Conway took over, the #7 car regained the lead, after a rather bizarre strategy call by Toyota;
The #7 car was serviced in the pits, when the whole field was being led through the pitlane anyways, due to the #4 Bykolles LMP1 car stopped on the start-finish line.
While the #8 car, which previously led the pack for more than 3/4 of the race, lost the lead after the driver switch, because it was held up in the pitlane by a red light. The #7 car gained a 28s lead through this.
The Safety Car was deployed again with 20 minutes to go, after the #17 SMP Racing car crashed at the exit of turn 14.
In the end, Mike Conway was able to hold off Kazuki Nakajima, to win the second race in a row for the #7 car.
Jenson Button’s #11 SMP Racing was the closest LMP1 challenger to the Toyota’s. Alonso’s ex McLaren-Honda team-mate was able to enjoy his first podium of the Superseason.
Fernando Alonso, Post-Race:
“It was a tough race due to the weather conditions, the amount of water on the track and the safety car periods.
“Wet weather races are always very stressful, also in terms of visibility. I think we had a good, fast car and did the best we could.
“We were quite competitive today and could fight for the win. In the end it did not work out but we will try it again next time.”
|6 Hours of Shanghai LMP1 Race Results|