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WEC: Porsche 919 Hybrid takes pole position

The reigning world champions, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), took pole position for the eighth and penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Shanghai.

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WEC: Match point for Porsche

One year ago in Shanghai, Porsche has celebrated an early win in the FIA WEC manufacturers’ world championship. Nothing less than the defence of this title is the target for this year’s six-hour race at the Chinese Formula One circuit.

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2015 FIA WEC season review – part two

The second half of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship saw the series move away from Europe. In these flyaway races, Porsche enforced its advantage to wrap up six world titles. Here’s how Weissach won them:

Round 5 – Six Hours of COTA
Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber

Porsche continued the winning streak that began at Le Mans as the FIA World Endurance Championship circus headed to the USA for the first of four overseas races that would conclude 2015.

Leading from pole position, it looked like the Six Hours of COTA was going to go the way of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas in the no. 18 Porsche only for an electrical issue with just 35 minutes left to leave them down in 12th.

This paved the way of the no. 17 car of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard to triumph (though only after chasing the Audis back down following a messy pit stop and penalty for Webber) closing the gap in the drivers’ and teams’ standings to the no. 7 Audi crew.

COTA RSR

The GTE-Pro class was a more straightforward affair with a intra-Porsche battle between the two factory Porsche 911 RSRs of Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki, and Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen.

While it was the no. 92 car of the former duo that led early on, their Austro-Danish teammates rallied in the second half of the race to take the lead and the no. 91 crew’s second victory in a row.

The victory meant that Porsche headed to Japan just two points behind Ferrari in the manufacturers’ championship and with Lietz in an even more comfortable position atop the drivers’ standings.

Round 6 – Six Hours of Fuji
Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber

A wet-to-dry race at Fuji International Speedway saw another victory for the no. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid. Once again though, it was the no. 18 car of Lieb, Dumas and Jani that starred, setting the pace for much of the race.

The no. 18 Porsche initially had to cede to the no. 8 Audi during the wettest phase of the race but, by lap 71, Dumas was back in a lead that the team wouldn’t give up until the final lap of the race.

Behind, the no. 17 car was once again forced to battled its way through the Audis (and the leading Toyota) on its way to second. Then, on the last tour, Jani slowed to give their championship chasing teammates another win.

Porsche 911 RSR (92), Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Frederic Makowiecki

The wet conditions in Japan suited the rear-engined Porsche 911 RSRs with the no. 92 and no. 91 cars (in that order) leading the GTE-Pro category in the early stages.

However, as the track dried out, the balance swung in favour of the lead AF Corse Ferrari 458, leaving Pilet and Makowiecki to take the chequered flag in second after a valiant performance.

Christensen and Lietz would have to settle for fourth in the no. 91 Porsche 911 RSR, although the result did maintain their position at the head of the drivers’ and teams’ standings.

Round 7 – Six Hours of Shanghai
Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber

A nearly flawless race for Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard brought them a fourth successive FIA WEC triumph in China and with it came Porsche’s first world endurance title since 1986.

On a slightly different fuel strategy to their stablemates in the no. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid, Webber, Hartley and Bernhard dominated proceedings, securing victory when Jani, Lieb and Dumas were forced to make a late splash-and-dash pitstop.

The sister crew’s second place helped Porsche to wrap up the 2015 manufacturers’ crown with a race to spare, freeing the team up to focus on the no. 17 car’s chances in the drivers’ and teams’ championships at the final round.

Porsche 911 RSR (91), Porsche Team Manthey:  Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen

Like Fuji, the wet conditions that greeted teams in Shanghai suited the Porsche 911 RSRs, with Lietz and Christensen coming from fifth on the grid to secure their third FIA WEC win of 2015.

Initially, as had been the case throughout the year, it was Pilet who charged through the field in the no. 92 RSR at the start of the race. However, the no. 91 entry soon rallied to find itself in the lead.

The no. 92 car’s chances of a win disintegrated when Makowiecki spun down to sixth place but Pilet again was a man on a mission, recovering to second by the time the chequered flag fell.

Round 8 – Six Hours of Bahrain
Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb

The season finale was perhaps Porsche’s hardest FIA WEC race since the Six Hours of Spa in May as the no. 17 919 Hybrid struggled with a throttle actuator problem.

Hampered by this recurring issue, Webber, Bernhard and Hartley put in a monumental effort to eventually cross the line in fifth place, a result that would be good enough for the title should the no. 7 Audi R18 fail to win.

Thankfully for them, the no. 18 Porsche of Jani, Dumas and Lieb prevailed in a thrilling dice that often saw the 919 and R18 go wheel-to-wheel during the desert night, taking their first victory of 2015 and helping their teammates to a maiden world championship success.

Porsche 911 RSR (92), Porsche Team Manthey: Patrick Pilet, Frederic Makowiecki

After opting to save a set of tyres and focus on race pace during qualifying, the two factory 911 RSRs were forced to fight their way through the GTE-Pro pack during the last race of the year.

While the no. 92 entry of Pilet and Makowiecki rapidly worked its way into a lead that it wouldn’t lose, Lietz and Christensen were taking things more steadily as they attempted to stay out of trouble.

With the sister car on course for victory, the no. 91 crew decided to settle for fifth place, a result that gave Lietz the drivers’ crown and settled the teams’ and manufacturers’ titles in Porsche’s favour.

For all the latest Porsche FIA World Endurance Championship news, make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section during the off-season.

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WEC 2015 : Porsche s’impose à Shanghai et remporte le titre constructeurs

WEC_Shanghai_LMP1Porsche est champion du monde des constructeurs. A l’issue d’une course une fois de plus animée entre les 919 et les R18 e-tron quattro, les quatre voitures terminant toutes dans le même tour, ce sont une nouvelle fois les Porsche qui s’imposent avec une nouvelle victoire pour la no17. Le titre constructeurs tombe logiquement dans […]

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2015 FIA WEC: Six Hours of Shanghai race report

Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley gave Porsche their fifth consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship race victory at the Six Hours of Shanghai, helping Weissach to wrap up a first world title since 1986.

At the penultimate round of the 2015 season, held at the Shanghai International Circuit, the two Porsche 919 Hybrids once again locked out the front row of the grid with Hartley and Webber securing pole position in the no. 17 machine with an average lap time 0.769s faster than Dumas and Lieb in the no. 18 car.

The dry and bright qualifying session of Saturday was replaced by plenty of rain for Sunday’s six-hour encounter however, with the race forced to start behind the safety car before going green at the end of lap four.

Less than two years after returning to frontline competition, Porsche has secured its first world championship since 1986.

Lieb briefly took the lead as Hartley struggled with a boost issue however, the Kiwi was quickly back at the head of the field as the no. 18 Porsche was forced into a spin by the no. 7 Audi, dropping to the back of the pack.

Hartley’s stint continued uneventfully until he handed the no. 17 car over to Timo Bernhard, briefly dropping behind the two Audis (who had yet to stop for fuel or fresh wet tyres).

On lap 61, Neel Jani – now at the wheel of the no. 18 Porsche 919 after Lieb handed over during a caution period – took the lead with Bernhard content to sit behind the sister car until lap 101 when the positions were reversed as the no. 17 Porsche’s pace improved.

In difficult conditions, the no. 18 Porsche Team crew pushed hard but couldn't oust the no. 17 car from the top spot.

Webber took the helm on lap 115 with the track now dry enough for the Michelin ‘hybrid’ intermediate (a slick tyre with a softer compound). The Australian ex-F1 star continued to lead until a stop on lap 154 for full slick tyres handed the lead back to the no. 18 entry, now driven by Romain Dumas.

The Frenchman was forced to make a splash-and-dash fuel stop on lap 162 though, giving the victory to the Webber/Hartley/Bernhard Porsche (the trio’s fourth consecutive WEC win) while second place for the no. 18 919 helped secure the 2015 manufacturers’ world championship.

In the GTE-Pro class, Porsche also took victory with the no. 91 Porsche 911 RSR of Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen coming from fifth on the grid to win, while the second Porsche Team Manthey 991 of Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki finished third.

A third win for the no. 91 Porsche 911 RSR helped strengthen Weissach's lead in two of the GT standings heading into the finale in Bahrain.

Traditionally strong in wet conditions, the two Porsche 911 RSRs made good progress in the early stages of the race as Makowiecki moved from fourth to second within five laps, one place ahead of Lietz.

The latter though would soon be in the lead, laying the foundations for the no. 91 crew’s third win of 2015. Behind, a spin for Makowiecki dropped the no. 92 RSR to sixth before Pilet got the second Porsche 911 back into the podium places.

The result strengthens Lietz’s advantage atop the drivers’ championship (which he now leads by 18 points from Christensen) while the no. 91 squad now also leads the teams’ title chase. Heading into the final round in Bahrain, Porsche is just four points behind Ferrari in the GT manufacturers’ standings too.

For all the latest Porsche race reports and news, make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section.

Richard Lietz (second left) now leads the GT drivers' championship by 18 points from teammate, Christensen (far left).

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