Toyota claimed its fourth 1-2 of the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship in a rain disrupted 6 hours of Shanghai.
The #7 car of Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, and Kamui Koboyashi claimed its second consecutive win ahead of sister #8 car, driven by Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi, and Kazuki Nakajima.
Heavy rain caused two red flags within the first two and a half hours of the race. Racing was only able to get underway proper after the half way mark, but the rain continued to fall, making conditions tricky in China.
Despite starting from pole, the #7 car fell behind the sister Toyota early in the race, but was able to reclaim the lead when it jumped the #8 in the pits.
The #7 car extended its lead to half a minute before Nakajima took over the #8 car from Alonso for his final stint and began to reel the race leader in.
Fans were denied a battle for the lead, however, when the 11th safety car of the race was brought out 16 minutes before the chequered flag, after the #17 SMP Racing car crashed and left deris strewn across the track.
Racing resumed with a little over five minutes left on the clock, but the two Toyotas opted not to fight. Nakajima in the #8 followed Conway in the #7 across the line to record Toyota’s second consecutive and fourth overall 1-2 of the season.
Despite a difficult qualifying, the #11 SMP Racing car, shared by Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov, and Mikhail Aleshin, managed to avoid most of the drama and climbed up to claim its first podium of the season.
The #1 Rebellion (Andre Lotterer, Bruno Senna, and Neel Jani) took fourth, while the sister #3 car could only manage fifth after Thomas Laurent span behind the safety car and made contact with the barriers early in the race. The squad lost time as the damaged suspension was repaired but the lengthy stoppages early on limited the damage to just two laps.
It finished three laps behind the race leaders, ahead of the #10 DragonSpeed car.
Further down, the rain mixed up the order in LMP2 and GTE Pro.
Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim in the #95 Aston Martin secured their first GTE Pro victory of the season as the pair brought the car home in an impressive P7 overall, ahead of the LMP2 class winner, Jackie Chan DC Racing’s #38 Oraca.
Fellow GTE Pro cars Porsche GT #91 and #92 completed the top 10, while the second LMP2 class car, DragonSpeed’s #31 car, could only finish P12 overall. The #36 Signatech Alpine car completed the LMP2 podium when it crossed the line 15th overall.
It was a difficult start to the weekend for Dempsey Proton Racing, with a data logger breach causing the team to lose all points scored so far this season. The crew of the #77 car aimed to make the best of this restart, taking victory in the GTE Am class, ahead of Team Project 1’s #56 car and sister Dempsey Proton #88 car.