Porsche continues to extend its lead in the 2019/2020 FIA World Endurance Sports Car Championship as Porsche drivers scored double podium finishes at Shanghai International Circuit, where the third round of the championship was held last Sunday.
Porsche was already leading the World Endurance Championship (WEC) points standings coming into the Shanghai, China race.
During the September 1 season-opening round held in Silverstone, England, Porsche teams had clinched top positions, including a one-two finish in GTE-Pro class. Following this was an equally strong performance in the second round, held at Japan’s Fuji Speedway on Oct. 6, where Porsche teams successfully defended their championship lead by securing top finishes in both the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes.
In Shanghai, reigning world champions Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, aboard their No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR, took up the four-hour race from pole to place second, in the process extending their lead in the drivers’ classification. The No. 91 911 RSR sister car of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz finished in third spot, completing the Porsche GT Team’s appearance on the podium.
The Shanghai race was gripping to the last second, during which time the Porsche GT Team used the full course yellow, occurring just before the end of the race, for its last pit stop. With less than an hour to go, Estre managed to sweep from third into second place. Bruni, who drove the final stint in the No, 91 car, made up one position with 40 minutes left on the clock to ultimately land on the podium.
Spirited drives and a strategic effort paid off for the Porsche GT Team over 125 laps on the 5.451-kilometer Shanghai circuit. Estre and Christensen now lead the drivers’ classification by five points. Bruni and Lietz are currently six points off the lead in third.
Porsche customer team Project 1 also secured a podium result in GTE-Am class. The trio of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Larry ten Voorde brought the 2017-spec 911 RSR home in second place after 113 laps. Five other 911 RSR entries, fielded by Project 1, Dempsey-Proton Racing and Gulf Racing, rounded out Porsche teams’ performance at the Shanghai circuit.
“We knew that we’d have a difficult race ahead of us,” said Alexander Stehlig, Porsche’s head of operations for FIA WEC, after the race. “Unfortunately, we lost a position with the No. 92 car, which had started from pole position. Our second car started from sixth and finished in third. We weren’t the fastest out there at times but we compensated for this through our teamwork. We’re thrilled to have extended our lead in the championship standings and with our perfect performance as a team this weekend.”
The results have allowed Porsche to expand its lead in the manufacturers’ classification in WEC by 17 points.
The next round of the 2019/2020 FIA World Endurance Sports Car Championship is the 8 Hours of Bahrain, scheduled on December 14.