The first quarter of the 6 Hours of Shanghai has finished with Toyota holding a 1-2 almost a lap ahead of the nr2 Audi R18, with the nr1 Audi further behind after an unscheduled stop to replace a punctured tyre.
The start saw Nicolas Lapierre in the nr7 Toyota TS030 lead the 28 car grid into the first corner with the nr1 Audi of Andre Lotterer tucking in behind but having to defend from the nr8 Toyota of Anthony Davidson. While Lapierre opened up a comfortable lead Davidson challenged Lotterer for several laps before eventually getting the break he needed to move ahead of the Audi. At the pitstops the Toyotas changed positions with the nr8 TS030 just ahead of the nr7 car.
Lotterer’s Audi picked up a puncture running over some debris left on the track at T14 by an incident involving the nr32 Lotus of Thomas Holzer and the nr57 Krohn Ferrari of Niclas Jonsson, which forced the German to head back to the pits, dropping him behind the nr2 Audi of Allan McNish.
The nr12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota finished the first 90 minutes two laps behind the leading manufacture entered car.
The nr26 G-Drive Racing Oreca Nissan of John Martin finished the first quarter where he started, at the front of the LMP2 field, 15 seconds ahead of the nr24 Oak Racing Morgan of Olivier Pla and the nr35 Oak Morgan of Bertrand Baguette.
The nr32 Lotus-Praga T128 ended the first quarter of the race still in the garage after the earlier incident with the nr57 Ferrari which saw body damage to the left rear of the car. The other early casualty was the nr49 Pecom Racing Oreca which made two early stops with an electrical problem, which has left the car stranded in the garage as the mechanics work to try and find the problem.
LMGTE report: Aston Martins hold sway in opening stint in China
In warm sunshine and in front of thousands of interested Chinese fans, the Aston Martins, Ferraris, Porsches and Corvette of the LMGTE Pro and Am classes have put on a great display of hard and close-fought racing in the first 90 minutes of the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
The No.97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Stefan Mucke has led from its LMGTE Pro class winning pole position since the start of the race – apart from the period of pit stops. The German now holds a 17s lead over the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni who charged from 6th on the class grid to 2nd in the first two laps of the race.
However, the Italian was forced to make an early stop for new Michelin tyres after a severe drop off in performance. With a different compound of rubber on the Italian car, Bruni is now back up to 2nd place in class ahead of his No.71 AF Corse team mate, Toni Vilander. The Finn has replaced Kamui Kobayashi at the wheel of the F458 Italia following another strong performance from the Japanese driver in his first stint.
In LMGTE Am, it is also an Aston Martin at the head of the classification – the all Danish No.95 Vantage V8 of Nicki Thiiim, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen some 10 seconds ahead of the No.81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia of Aguas-Rigon-Potolicchio. The No.88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Ried-Roda-Ruberti made a great start and was running 2nd second in class until the pit stop window and is lapping very competitively. It is now 3rd in class ahead of the No.76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche. The No.61 AF Corse Ferrari – which was on the front row of the Am grid at the start – has had a slightly troubled start to its race with a couple of spins off track but hopes to move further back up the order in the hours to come.