Expectation is growing ahead of the 4 Hours of Shanghai, the third round of Season 8 of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which sees six Ferrari crews line up in LMGTE Pro and Am classes. In what has traditionally proved to be an awkward circuit for Prancing Horse’s 488 GTEs, the race result, as the season opening has proved, will be a hard outcome to predict, with weather conditions likely to be a further determining factor.
LMGTE Pro. The Ferraris will go in search of a first season win in the LMGTE Pro class after having taken away far less than deserved from the two opening events of Season 8 at Silverstone and Fuji. Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, at the wheel of the #51 488 GTE courtesy of AF Corse, will be hoping for an all-round result capable of kick-starting their ambitions in the overall standings. The 2017 world champions must overcome an eleven-point deficit from the leaders of the very tight general standings, with the top four crews divided by a mere six points. Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina, after having claimed the first well-deserved points of the campaign in Fuji aboard the #71 488 GTE of AF Corse, will hope to put the spell of bad luck, that has hindered the opening stages of the season, firmly behind them.
LMGTE Am. François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen arrive in Shanghai top of the LMGTE Am class leader board thanks to a first and second place clinched in the races held so far. The crew of the #83 488 GTE of AF Corse will have to weigh up against some very hefty competition including the #70 Ferrari of MR Racing driven by Motoaki Ishikawa, Olivier Beretta and Kei Cozzolino, who got the season off to a flying start and currently hold the lowest step on the provisional podium, thanks to third and fourth place finishes. Another outfit on the hunt for a noteworthy result will be the second #54 Ferrari crew fielded by AF Corse made up of Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Giancarlo Fisichella, while English drivers Bonamy Grimes, Johnny Mowlem and Charles Hollings will seek to consolidate the positive development displayed in Japan in the #62 488 GTE of Red River Sport.
Circuit. The Shanghai International Circuit, built in 2003 on the edge of the Chinese metropolis, falls into the category of the latest generation of leading edge race-tracks. The track designer, German Hermann Tilke conceived the layout, inspired by the shape of the Chinese character shàng (上), meaning "above" or "ascend", which forms the base of the word Shanghai. 5,451 metres long, the raceway offers varied sectors, amongst which alternate high-speed curves, straights and tight bends.
Schedule. The action gets underway on Friday with the first 90-minute free practices scheduled for 11:00 and 15:30 local time. Saturday, at 14:00, sees the qualifying for the LMGTE Pro and Am classes, while the race itself gets underway at 12:00 on Sunday with the chequered flag set to signal race-end at 16:00 local time (UTC+8).