No. 67 Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell wins in China just three weeks after winning in Japan
No. 66 Ford GT raced by Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla takes the runner up spot after early race drama
Teams’ title battle is now on for final round in Bahrain
SHANGHAI, China --
In a repeat of the emphatic victory in Japan three weeks ago the #66 Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell finished the 6 Hours of Shanghai in first place this Sunday. Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla raced the sister No. 66 Ford GT to second place sealing a dramatic 1-2 for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team. The team will now go into the final round in Bahrain in two weeks with a clear shot at taking the teams’ title.
“Amazing!” said WEC Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell after the race. “We were struggling on the first day here in Shanghai but the team have done a superb job of working on the set up of the car and with Michelin to get the best out of the tyres. The drivers stayed calm when we were struggling and we have turned it around into a great result. The guys have had it pretty tough. We tested between the races in Japan and China and it has all gone perfectly. It’s a real tribute to the team.”
The Ford GTs started the race alongside each other at the head of the GTE field after a great performance in Saturday’s qualifying session. A spinning LMP2 car at the first turn rolled back into the oncoming GTE cars, creating chaos and sending the safety car into play. Andy Priaulx held onto pole position and sped off in the lead in the No. 67 Ford GT but Stefan Mücke took a hit in the rear of the No. 66 GT and found himself in third place behind the No. 51 Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni.After two laps the safety car pitted and the race was back on. Mücke hunted down Bruni and eventually retook second place, creating a Ford 1-2 that held until after the halfway mark of the six-hour race. Throughout the early stages the drivers completed flawless single stints, pulling away to create a good buffer to the challengers behind them.
Shortly after half distance Mücke was forced to dive into the pits as he had a slow puncture. This pushed him back down to fourth place but over the course of the next hour, he and Olivier Pla pulled the time back and retook second. Both Ford GTs then held onto first and second place all the way to the chequered flag.
Andy Priaulx, who took the fastest lap of the race (and a new lap record), was naturally delighted to take the win after starting the race from pole position.
“I’m really happy with that!” said Priaulx. “I managed to make a good start and had a couple of good first stints. We had a perfect race. The car ran faultlessly and the pit stops were great. To take two wins on the trot and for them to be team 1-2 finishes is just mega.”
Harry Tincknell continues his run of great results, including an LMP2 championship win and his first WEC win at Fuji.
“I’m enjoying this run of results!” said Tincknell. “After taking pole yesterday to getting our second win on the bounce today is just unbelievable. Nothing has really changed with the car in terms of updates and balance of performance since Le Mans but we have all been working hard and getting faster and faster. Everything has come together at the right time. When the No. 66 had a puncture it gave us some breathing room but we still had to get the job done. I’m delighted that everyone’s hard work has been rewarded. The whole team should be very proud of themselves.”Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla were pleased to take the runner up spot but as racers they will be gunning for their first win in Bahrain.
“Another great result for the team,” said Mücke. “We were actually lucky today as I got hit on the rear left and the rear right but despite a bit of damage to the car it was still running okay. After that we ran in second until we got a slow puncture, which cost us 50 seconds. We finished the race 50.6 seconds behind Andy and Harry so it would have been a very close race! When you consider what happened to us at the start we can be happy that we brought it home in second place. And secured good points for the team.”
“I think Stefan has said it all!” said Pla. “We were running bumper to bumper so without the puncture it would have been very close. We had good pace today. We wanted the win of course but that’s motor racing and our time will come.”
The final round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place in Bahrain on Nov. 19.