With the addition of the Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD there was a five car grid for the race, and all five led the race at some point. Olivier Pla sat on pole but was bundled down the order at the start in the G-Drive Ligier Nissan, the KCMG Oreca grabbing the lead before Ryan Dalziel found a way by in the ESM HPD.
Pla though fought his way back to the front, this despite a half spin after contact in traffic but the Ligier was one of the cars caught out in the downpour, the G-Drive car, ESM HPD and KCMG Oreca all losing almost a lap to the SMP Racing Orecas via the restart procedure, leaving the trio to fight back thereafter.
The #37 SMP Oreca would be a mid race casualty after front end damage following contact and ESM’s excellent pace would be blunted after Ed Brown was a blameless victim of contact from the rear as he tried to avoid a spinning GTE AM Ferrari, the #30 car would recover to third, all three drivers putting in a fine and spirited display. Their two car effort in Shanghai will be one to watch!
The Ligier would suffer damage after Julien Canal fell victim to one of the orange pyramids after he stumbled across the Lotus whilst he was closing in on the then leading #27 SMP Oreca.
That incident came just after a remarkably similar snafu from Tsugio Matsuda as the Japanese driver also closed in on the #27 in his #47 KCMG Oreca Nissan, spinning to a halt and struggling to rejoin on wet grass and with the car nosed into the tyre barrier.
Matsuda though recovered, the car put back into contention by Matt Howson and Richard Bradley and eventually overhauling the Championship leading #27, Maurizio Mediani put up a spirited defence and Nic Minassian fought the good fight too in defence of Sergey Zlobin’s Championship lead but the Chinese entered car eventually came home on top to reduce the gap to the leaders in the points.