Porsche edges out Toyota for WEC Shanghai pole

© Porsche

Porsche will start Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round in Shanghai, China from pole position after defending champions Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber edged out Toyota’s no. 5 crew in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Webber and Hartley combined for a two-lap average of 1:44.462 at the Shanghai International Circuit, beating Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima by just 0.06 seconds come the checkered flag.

Porsche was forced to send Hartley out for a second run late on after his first flying lap was scratched for a track limits violation, only for the New Zealander to do enough with his final effort to give the German marque pole.

Webber and Hartley will be joined in the Porsche 919 Hybrid by Timo Bernhard on Sunday, in what will be the no. 1 crew’s penultimate race together before Webber’s retirement at the end of the season.

In what is also its second-to-last race in the WEC, Audi qualified strongly as title contenders Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis charged to third on the grid, 0.148 seconds off the pole time. The sister R18 will start fifth behind the no. 6 Toyota, while the championship-leading Porsche no. 2 crew could only qualify sixth.

LMP2 saw Manor pick up its first class pole position in the WEC as Matt Rao and Alex Lynn posted a two-lap average of 1:54.225, giving them P1 by 0.157 seconds ahead of the no. 36 Signatech Alpine Nissan.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing swept to a one-two finish in GTE Pro with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell setting the pace in the no. 67 Ford GT. The no. 66 shared by Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla slotted into P2, with Aston Martin’s no. 95 Vantage finishing third.

Ferrari was left hamstrung by an overnight Balance of Performance tweak that saw the boost pressure on its 488 GTEs reduced, making P4 something of an achievement for James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni in the no. 51 entry.

Aston Martin Racing’s no. 98 car took its third straight pole in GTE Am as Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy finished three-tenths clear of the field despite having an early lap disallowed for exceeding track limits. The no. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia will start second in class.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”