FIA WEC – Two Ferrari crews in GTE-Pro seek to break Shanghai jinx
The FIA World Endurance Championship is off to China for the last race of the 2018 calendar year, although actually it is only the fifth in the Super Season of the number one endurance racing championship. Five Ferraris are set to compete, three in the GTE-Am class and two in the GTE-Pro where victory has always eluded the Prancing Horse.
GTE-Pro. Ferrari and the 6 Hours of Shanghai have always had a tricky relationship, with problems and accidents along with performances not up to usual standards of Maranello, the most successful manufacturer in the GT class in the history of this World Championship. The best result remains second place in 2015, but on that occasion Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the 458 Italia GTE lost ground to their Porsche rivals who then took the title. So, last year’s third place was the Prancing Horse’s most valuable finish in Shanghai, helping the Ferrari 488 GTE to the secure the Constructors’ world championship with a race to go. Ferrari hopes to start from there and the good performance in the unfortunate Fuji race, even if the Balance of Performance (BoP) still seems to be not perfect for the AF Corse cars no. 51 and 71.
Close-knit. Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado are obviously motivated after their fourth at Fuji, which actually is worth much more. In Japan, the world champions pulled back from last to fourth and in Shanghai, with the changeable weather forecast, are determined to make a stand. Davide Rigon and Sam Bird are also looking for payback after their bad luck at Fuji, when they were involved in an accident that robbed the 488 GTE no. 71 of a victory that seemed within the reach of the Anglo-Italian pair.
GTE-Am. Ferrari’s only victories in the FIA WEC in Shanghai were won by in the GTE-Am class. This year three will be three 488 GTE racing in the class. As always, the fast trio of Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Giancarlo Fisichella will take turns in car no. 54. The twin cars will be driven by Olivier Beretta, Eddie Cheever III and Motoaki Ishikawa, while the Shanghai race will be Weng Sun Mok’s last at the wheel of the Clearwater Racing car that will start in 2019 in Sebring with a different line-up to the one made of the Malaysian, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin. It was in this class that the 8 Stars Motorsports team won in 2014 with Vicente Potolicchio, Rui Aguas and Davide Rigon. This triumph was repeated in 2015 with François Perrodo, Rui Aguas and Emmanuel Collard, in the colors of AF Corse.
Schedule. The usual free practice sessions will be on Friday, while qualifying for the GTE class takes place at 2 pm on Saturday (7 am CET). The race will start at 11 am on Sunday and end at 5 pm (10 CET).