Porsche takes WEC manufacturers’ title as no. 1 crew wins in Shanghai

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Porsche wrapped up its second straight FIA World Endurance Championship manufacturers’ title by taking a confident victory in Sunday’s 6 Hours of Shanghai in China.

Defending world champions Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard shared the no. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid en route to their fourth win in five races, enjoying a victory margin of almost a minute over the no. 6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid come the checkered flag.

Coming off the back of its victory in Japan, Toyota continued its impressive form by running Porsche close for victory, only for the no. 6 crew’s hopes of a win dashed by two punctures despite a superior tire and fuel strategy.

The win for Webber and co. saw Porsche move into an unassailable lead at the top of the manufacturers’ championship ahead of the final race of the season in Bahrain in two weeks’ time, with the sister no.2 car coming home in fourth place behind the no. 5 Toyota.

Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani had been hoping to wrap up their maiden WEC drivers’ championship in Shanghai, but a fourth-place finish means the title battle will go to the final race of the year thanks to Toyota’s result.

Audi’s penultimate race in the WEC was one to forget as its pair of R18s made contact mid-race, leaving both with damage. The no. 8 car ultimately finished fifth, three laps down on the race-winning Porsche, while the no. 7 was classified sixth.

In LMP2, Signatech Alpine wrapped up the class title with one race to spare, marking a first major championship for American racer Gustavo Menezes.

Alongside Stephane Richelmi and Nicolas Lapierre, Menezes took the no. 36 Alpine-Nissan to fourth place in Shanghai as G-Drive Racing picked up its second straight victory with its no. 26 Oreca-Nissan, shared by Roman Rusinov, Will Stevens and Alex Brundle.

GTE Pro saw Ford Chip Ganassi Racing convert its dominant qualifying performance into a one-two finish in the race as Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell scored their second straight win.

The no. 67 Ford GT finished 50 seconds clear of the sister no. 66 car, shared by Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla, while the no. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 raced by Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado was third amid ongoing grumblings about Balance of Performance tweaks over the weekend.

Aston Martin Racing racked up its fifth GTE Am win of the year as the no. 98 trio of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana won the class by 51 seconds. The championship-leading no. 83 AF Corse crew finishing third, meaning the fight for the title will continue in Bahrain as AMR looks to bridge the 22-point gap.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.