TDS Racing was in China this week for the 6 Hours of Shanghai, 5th event of the 2018/2019 WEC Super Season. The Shanghai International Speedway offers a 5.451 km race track, with 16 turns including two straights were drivers can pass depending on weather conditions, and a hairpin. It’s a hard track on drivers and tyres.
After having missed Japan because of his DTM final race, Loïc Duval was back on duty with his teammates François Perrodo and Matthieu Vaxivière for the last 2018 race. The next Super Season meeting will take place in the USA in March 2019.
WEC 6 Hours of Shanghai
Weather forecast is always an important matter for the 6 Hours of Shanghai, as we have seen in previews years. The free practice sessions were fine for the TDS Racing #28 Oreca07, as the drivers set the 3rd best lap times on FP1 and FP2, and a 5th place result in FP3. Qualifying duties were given to Loïc Duval and François Perrodo, the car started the race from 7th row on 5th LMP2 position.
Matthieu Vaxivière started the “under-safety-car-launched” race, as the rain was soaking the track, and visibility was very slight. Only 5 laps later, track direction decided to put red flag out, meaning a total stop of the race. Almost one hour later, Safety Car launched the continuing race, but again it took only 8 additional laps until track director red flagged it a second time… In fact, the race was complicated for the drivers and the teams, with numerous additional safety cars, as the weather did not better until towards the last hours of the race. After a very well managed double stint in truly harsh weather conditions, Matthieu Vaxivière who had put the #28 Oreca 07 in LMP2 P1, handed the wheel to François Perrodo. Frenchman from Brittany completed a fantastic 24-lap stint, defying all the water, fog, drizzle, slippery complicated track conditions before Loïc Duval took over to finish the race. Unfortunately he had to hand the wheel back to François for an additional 50-second mandatory driving time. It was too close to the end and #28 TDS Racing was not able to leave the pit lane before the winner saw the chequered flag, the car is therefore not classified.
FP1 WET- 34 Laps – P3 – 2’04’’282
FP2 WET – 28 Laps – P3 – 2’11’’746
FP3 DRY – 26 Laps – P5 – 1’51”614
Qualification DRY – P5 – 1’51”006 (Loïc & François)
Race – Not classified
Xavier Combet FRA (Team Manager) : “The most important thing we want to remember from this harsh and complicated race in very difficult weather conditions, is that our drivers have shown how to master the elements, and have not done any kind of mistake. Our car did not encounter any problem, so of course the final result is very disappointing since we do not score any point at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. As always, with the Red Flags and the numerous Safety Cars, we had to recalculate several time our guy’s driving times. Matthieu did a superb and very professional job during his double stint, keeping the car on track although it was really tough, and taking it to P1. François did a fantastic stint and really impressed the whole team. In the very hard weather conditions, not only he was able to stay on track, avoiding all kind of traps, but also he managed to increase the gap between him and Pierre Thiriet (Alpine). Unfortunately he did not have enough fuel in the car to complete his minimum driving time (about 50 seconds)… When Loïc took over, we knew that we would have to get back out with François, to complete his mandatory time. Loïc did a great stint, completing some impressive lap times (2nd best LMP2 race lap time) and at the end even without wipers… another proof of his great talent and driving skills, which makes out of him an exceptional driver. He managed to collect little by little the tiny seconds that were going to make the difference and allow the additional pit stop… unfortunately, another safety car wiping out all of Loïc’s efforts. We tried to stay all the way to the end hopping for some luck, and Loïc came in the very last lap to hand the wheel over to François. It was too short and while François was driving out of the pit lane, the winners Toyota #7 passed under the chequered flag, and the pit lane light turned red. François was trapped and #28 TDS Racing never saw the chequered flag of the 6 Hours of Shanghai. Our car, even if it went all the way through the very difficult race and in P3 at the end, is not classified. We have been fighting for a podium finish since the beginning of the season, and we are never very far. So we will go on this way, to achieve it, as I really think the complete team deserves this podium finish.
In short, we managed a great and solid race, we have shown once again that the team is efficient, the car is good, the drivers are fine tuned and competitive. These are the key words we want to remember from the 2018 6 Hours of Shanghai. Now, we will enjoy a well-deserved break, before we can have our car in January to prepare the next 2018/2019 Super Season meeting in Sebring, Florida USA next March.”
Source. TDS Racing/Photo. Clément Marin