LM GTE-Pro: 7 Cars
51 AF Corse Gianmaria Bruni Toni Vilander Ferrari 458 Italia
71 AF Corse Davide Rigon James Calado Ferrari 458 Italia
91 Porsche AG Team Manthey Richard Lietz Michael Christensen Porsche 911 RSR
92 Porsche AG Team Manthey Patrick Pilet Frédéric Makowiecki Porsche 911 RSR
97 Aston Martin Racing Darren Turner Jonny Adam Aston Martin Vantage V8
99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Alex MacDowall Fernando Rees Richie Stanaway Aston Martin Vantage V8
A major late breaking piece of news from the Aston Martin Racing camp sees the withdrawal of the #95 ‘Dane Train’ evidently a further protest over their ongoing unhappiness over the Balance of Performance for the V8 Vantage – none of the trio of Astons has featured on a GTE Pro podium since Spa.
Richie Stanaway – who’s back from GP2 duty – will again join the #99 Vantage.
In the Championship race through it’s all about the other two manufacturers as Porsche and Ferrari duke it out for supremacy.
The Manufacturer’s title is the one they want and there the topsy turvy nature of the post-Le mans season has seen things interestingly poised.
The win last time out for the #51 saw the championship lead for Ferrari extend by 10 points to 13 – 228 for the Prancing Horse, 215 for Porsche. With 88 points still up for grabs it’s closer than it initially looks.
In the Driver’s Championship too the excellent win, trailblazed by a hero stint from Toni Wilander, who ran three hours on a single set of tyres, tightens things up too. Richard Lietz retains his Championship lead but only by 7 points, neatly the difference between first and second place – The Austrian’s 110 points plays the #71 Ferrari crew’s 103, James Calado and Davide Rigon now a real force to be reckoned with.
Back on 93.5 points are Bruni and Vilander. They need to win to stay in this one – and that’s going to be something to savour. Unless Ferrari has a REALLY bad day in Shanghai this one is set to go to the wire in Bahrain!
LM GTE-Am: 7 Cars
50 Larbre Competition Gianluca Roda Paolo Ruberti Nicolai Sylvest Chevrolet Corvette C7
72 SMP Racing Victor Shaytar Andrea Bertolini Aleksey Basov Ferrari 458 Italia
77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Patrick Dempsey Patrick Long Marco Seefried Porsche 911 RSR
83 AF Corse Francois Perrodo Emmanuel Collard Rui Aguas Ferrari 458 Italia
88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Competition Christian Reid Khaled Al Qubaisi Klaus Bachler Porsche 911 RSR
96 Aston Martin Racing Francesco Castellacci Liam Griffin Stuart Hall Aston Martin Vantage V8
98 Aston Martin Racing Paul Dalla Lana Pedro Lamy Mathias Lauda Aston Martin Vantage V8
Fuji new boys Nicolai Sylvest and Liam Griffin both stay on board their respective steeds for the second Asian encounter and Klaus Bachelor is finally back from other racing commitments to rejoin the #88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche effort; it must be noted that there’s no Earl Bamber in China.
SMP Racing could have sealed the Championship in Japan but faltered, though a win here though will do it. Even a podium might be good enough depending on where the chasing pack finish.
Three other cars are mathematically in with a chance though the 41 point gap for the once dominant #98 Aston martin looks too big a gulf to bridge.
Good recent form from the #77 Dempsey Proton crew has seen them stay in with an outside shot, 36 points is the gap though, they need to repeat their breakthrough win to have a realistic chance.
Heading up the chase is the other Ferrari, the #83 AF Corse team has been a model of consistency – a podium at every single round so far. Messrs Collard, Perrodo and Aguas though need to go to the next level and take a first win, it they are to take this fight forward to Bahrain.