JOTA Takes Dominant One-Two Finish in the FIA WEC 4 Hours of Shanghai
13th November 2019
JOTA underlined its FIA WEC title credentials by locking out the top two positions in Sunday’s third round of the 2019/20 season at Shanghai International Circuit in China.
Both of the team’s Goodyear-shod Oreca-Gibsons proved to be the cars to beat in the LMP2 class, with the No.38 crew of Anthony Davidson, Roberto Gonzalez and Antonio Felix da Costa earning its first win of the season ahead of the sister Jackie Chan DC Racing-entered No.37 car which is operated by JOTA.
Will Stevens and Gabriel Aubry’s combined efforts in qualifying had given the No.37 crew second on the grid, and ex-Formula 1 driver Stevens was able to capitalise on that start position to vault into an early lead while Davidson put the No.38 car up to second after a spirited opening to the four hour race.
But the pendulum swung firmly in favour of the No.38 crew in the second stint as Davidson seized the advantage with some stellar laps and also taking advantage of a slight problem for the No.37 Jackie Chan Dc Racing car. The former overall WEC champion then built up a considerable gap out front before handing over to Gonzalez for the middle portion of the race.
Gonzalez was able to keep the No.37 car – now with local hero Ho-Pin Tung at the wheel – at bay, making no mistakes during flawless stints and handing over to da Costa not long before the only full-course yellow period of the race with a little over an hour to go.
But this didn’t alter the complexion of the race and da Costa was able to bring home the No.38 car to win by 17 seconds ahead of Gabriel Aubry in the sister No.37 entry, expelling memories from last month’s Fuji race where Davidson, Gonzalez and da Costa lost a well-earned second place due to a minor infringement.
As well as marking Goodyear’s first win in the WEC, JOTA also delivered the famous American tyre brand’s first triumph in a major international race since Michael Schumacher’s Italian Grand Prix victory in 1998 at Monza for Ferrari.
It was also JOTA’s first win as a full WEC season entrant, although it had taken several memorable wins at Le Mans and Spa in the past.
Tung, Stevens and Aubry are now just two points behind the LMP2-leading Racing Team Nederland crew in the championship, while Gonzalez and da Costa are only 16 points off the top of the table and very much still in the hunt with five races still to go this season.
Anthony Davidson said: “It means a lot to win, our first win as a crew is always special, especially after the good race we had in Fuji. To come back after that and win in dominant style is something I’m really happy about. It’s great for Goodyear as well to win their first race in LMP2 and they have shown that they are providing and developing a really good tyre. It’s nice to be a part of that and to have helped engineer that. It’s an important day for Goodyear to have shown such speed and consistency.”
Roberto Gonzalez said: “It feels great. It was a hard effort from everyone in the team. We knew it would be a difficult race just because of the tyre management. The first laps when I took over from Anthony were very difficult because you don’t know if your pace is right or not, but it went well. The second stint was just about survival, not making any mistakes and maintaining the gap to the second-place car. It was a bit stressful for me but it’s great that we managed to not make any mistakes, keep the gap and finish first.”
Antonio Felix da Costa said: “It wasn’t easy to drive the car, the tyre management was critical, but the race was won by the three of us making no mistake, the team executing perfect pitstops, perfect strategy. We were ready for any situation and the team played it perfect. Also Anthony’s stint was amazing and gave us a comfortable gap to play with, but it was still very hard. It’s my first win in the WEC, not only in LMP2, so a good day, and also for Goodyear who are fantastic to work with.”
Ho-Pin Tung said: “As a team we did a great job. The car was very strong, although Will started to suffer with some small car issues at the end of his first stint, which dragged through all the way to the end of the race. There’s more to come but I’m pretty happy, a solid result for the championship. Big congratulations to the sister JOTA car for winning, they did a flawless race today. We will try next time in Bahrain to beat them.”
Sam Hignett, Director of JOTA, said: “I’m very pleased with the result. The team did a great job, all the drivers did a great job. Anthony in particular was exceptional at the beginning, his experience really showed in terms of managing the tyres. It was interesting to see that the young guns from other teams struggled here but the wise, super-experienced guys came to the fore. We think the No.37 suffered a minor problem in the race, looking at the data, which hampered the crew. This circuit suited us, but there’s still work to do from our side and Goodyear’s side to get even stronger. It’s all to play for in the championship.”
The fourth round of the 2019/20 FIA WEC season will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit on December 12-14.