For the first time since 1986 Porsche could win a World Championship title. Mathematically it is possible for the two Porsche 919 Hybrids to secure the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship’s manufacturers’ title on November 1st in Shanghai. At the same time, it is still possible to lose the championship to the competition that has recently become stronger. It’s a tense time in the run up to the six-hour race on the Chinese Formula One circuit with its unique corners.
Going into the seventh of eight rounds the Porsche Team has 264 points to its tally in the manufacturers’ championship. Audi has 211, Toyota 119. The maximum points that can be scored in each six-hour race is 44 (25 and 18 for a one-two race result, plus one point for pole position).
In the drivers’ standings, Porsche drivers Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) lead with 129 points. The fastest Audi trio has only one point less and the second Porsche crew of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) lies third in the rankings (95.5 points).
“The Shanghai circuit is a challenging one,” commented Hartley. “It has got a lot of different types of corners, and is especially hard on the left hand front tyre because of the many long and fast corners. The long straight will suit the 919 very well. In the past we would have been nervous about this kind of track, but we have improved the car a lot since 2014 and go there full of confidence.”
Thirty one racing cars with 86 drivers from 19 different nationalities are divided into four classes in the WEC. The Porsche 919 Hybrid competes in the top LMP1 class (class one Le Mans Prototypes) and is a research laboratory for future sports car technology. It is powered by a downsizing two-litre V4-cylinder turbo charged petrol engine and an electric engine, which is fed by two different energy recovery systems (brake energy from the front axle and exhaust energy). This unique and ground-breaking powertrain produces a system performance of around 1,000 hp.
Since the 919’s debut back in 2014, it has won five races: Interlagos in 2014 and in 2015 four races in a row: first the 24 Hours of Le Mans, then the six-hour races at the Nürburgring, in Austin and in Fuji. Three times it has achieved a one-two result (Le Mans, Nürburgring and Fuji) and in all six 2015 rounds to date no car other than a 919 has made it onto pole position or, for that matter, the front row of the grid. The two regular car crews have three pole positions each.
Last year in Shanghai, Dumas/Jani/Lieb took pole position and achieved what was back then the third podium finish for the 919 Hybrid. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber started from P3 and finished sixth after a damaged tyre. Before that, in Shanghai the two 919s were running one-two in a race for the first time.