Toyota Racing did not contest the entire FIA World Endurance Championship in their TS030 Hybrid debut season but they dominated in China to close out the 2012 season. Alexander Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre were unstoppable during the 6 Hours of Shanghai to land their third victory out of only six races that they entered.
“It was a good race for us and a 100% perfect race weekend,” said Wurz. Lapierre added, “The car was great and we pushed throughout the race. Everyone at Toyota Racing did a fantastic job today. It has been a pleasure to be part of this team and a pleasure to share the drive with Alex, and also Kazuki when he has been with us. Everything has got better and better as the season has gone on.”
The morning started with a light mist which caused the morning warm-up to be canceled as they had to wait out the weather for the medical helicopter to arrive at the circuit. Once the weather cleared enough, the teams prepared for what would be a demanding six hours.
“These races are never simple but we were very determined to win this race for Toyota and give everyone extra motivation over the winter. I really enjoyed it today and I couldn’t wish for a better team-mate, although of course we missed Kazuki this weekend. It has been a terrific season for us. At the beginning we had some emotional and performance ups and downs but we improved every day and with every step. That is what counts and that’s why we ended the season as race winners,” Wurz said.
They discovered at the end of the race that they had taken third in the drivers’ championship; thanks in part to the top Privateer team.
The Audi Sport Team Joest had already notched the manufacturers title, and today with their third place win, André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler, and Benoît Tréluyer landed the inaugural WEC drivers’ championship.
The #1 R18 e-tron quattro finished third behind their sister car with Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen in the #2 e-tron.
Rebellion Racing earned the Privateer LM P1 trophy in Japan, and were set today to add another victory when Nicolas Prost slowed down on the main straight with just minutes left in the six hour challenge. It was a sad ending to a fantastic year for the #12 Lola Toyota. Last weekend, Bart Hayden brought the team to the USA for the American Le Mans Series’ Petit Le Mans, and they won overall. However Prost, Neel Jani, Hayden and the team wanted to cap off their season with a final podium finish for the year.
It also cost Jani and Prost third place in the overall LM P1 drivers’ title. The team’s #13 Lola Toyota ended up with the Privateer LM P1 victory which was great news for China as the only driver in the Shanghai race from their homeland was Cong Fu ‘Frankie’ Cheng. Of course his teammates Andrea Belicchi and Harold Primat celebrated with Cheng. In LM P2, it was one strange battle. The trading off the lead was usually due to contact or minor problems. In the end the #25 ADR Delta ended up celebrating the class win; ahead of Starworks and OAK Racing.
It was the fourth victory of the year for the ADR Delta team, and they won at Fuji which makes Shanghai a back-to-back win for Tor Graves and John Martin. Third driver for the team was Matthias Beche whose help moved them into second for the final LM P2 standings.
Starworks Motorsports had what one would term a good day and a bad day. They were fast in their HPD ARX-03b Honda but contact between other cars put them back; yet they made up ground to take second place in the finale with drivers Ryan Dalziel, Enzo Potolicchio, and Stephane Sarrazin. The team already had sewn up the championship.
OAK Racing also had an up and down day but despite their minor issues, Jacques Nicolet, Matthieu Lahaye, Olivier Pla, and the team overcame all obstacles to place third in their Morgan Nissan.
The normal fight for first in the LM GTE Pro class ended up with the Aston Martin #97 Vantage V8 taking the win. It was not an easy victory as their rivals from the Porsche and Ferrari camps with lead changes during the six hour race. The victory by Stefan Mücke and Darren Turner secured second in the FIA Endurance Trophy for the British team.
Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz gave chase to the AMR Vantage but came up short in their #77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 RSR.
The team that had five wins this year ended third. Andrea Bertolini and Olivier Beretta was one lap down when the checkered flag waved in their #71 Ferrari 458 Italia.
In the LM GTE Am, the victory went to the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette C6-ZR1. Besides Toyota Racing’s Hybrid, the Corvette team had an excellent day. Julien Canal and Patrick Bornhauser clinched for the team, the converted class trophy. With the help of third driver Pedro Lamy, Canal and Bornhauser, and of course a bit of luck, were one lap ahead of their rivals.
Team Felbermayr-Proton’s #88 Porsche 911 RSR started on the pole thanks to Paolo Ruberti; alas that did not help today, and when things went wrong they could only hope for the best. Ruberti and his teammates Christian Ried and Gianluca Roda watched their title hopes go bye. With their second place finish, also came second in the LM GTE Am standings.
Taking third in the race and the championship was Tracy Krohn, Nic Jönsson, and Michele Rugolo for the #57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 458 Italia.