8Star Motorsports put itself firmly back into title contention in the FIA World Endurance Championship by taking a commanding victory in the 6 Hours of Shanghai. Team principal Enzo Potolicchio joined Portuguese ace Rui Aguas and Ferrari Formula 1 test driver Davide Rigon on the top step of the LM GTE-AM podium Saturday in Shanghai, marking the team’s second victory of the season.
Having started from third on the grid for the second-to-last race of the FIA WEC season, 8Star’s Venezuelan-backed Ferrari 458 Italia showed immediate pace from the onset. Solid opening stints by all three drivers, along with quick pit stops, helped elevate the orange-colored car to second place in the competitive GT division.
An issue for the No. 95 Aston Martin, with just over half of the race complete, saw Rigon take over the lead. After another impressive stint by Potolicchio, who maintained the gap to second, Aguas took the 8Star Ferrari to the checkered flag, a full lap ahead of the No. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche, which finished second.
The day belonged to 8Star, which claimed another FIA WEC win and inched closer to the GTE-AM World Championship. The Florida-based organization is now only 5 points away from the leading Aston Martin Racing team, while Potolicchio and Aguas remain with a chance of the drivers’ title as well, with only a 9-point deficit heading into the season finale in Bahrain later this month.
“Winning here is amazing,” said Potolicchio, who earned his fifth career FIA WEC victory. “We had the pace and the consistency. Our pit stops were amazing. The whole crew did a great job. We gained more than 20 seconds in our pit stops alone. It was a really good team effort from everyone at 8Star Motorsports.
“It’s also great result for me and my country,” Potolicchio continued. “We’ve accomplished a lot this season with the support of Venezuela and private companies that have been with us for a number of years. We’re now back in contention for the championship and we need to keep working hard like we’ve been doing all year.”
Both Aguas and Rigon were also pleased with the team’s performance today.
“I think Enzo and Davide did an amazing job,” Aguas said. “I’m really happy to be a part of the 8Star team. The crew had fantastic pit stops. Everything worked really well. So I’m looking forward to the next race. I hope Bahrain will be a new story and we can fight for the championship.”
“I was a bit disappointed the No. 95 car stopped because all three of us had very good pace to fight for the win,” said Rigon, who scored his first FIA WEC victory. “I’m very happy because the team didn’t make any mistakes. My teammates also drove a great race. I’m really happy for this victory.”
With 8Star now back in title contention, the focus shifts to the 6 Hours of Bahrain on Nov. 28-30, the eighth and final round of this year’s FIA WEC. Potolicchio will be looking to become the first-ever two-time drivers’ champion, while history could also be made with the teams’ championship.
(Text/image: 8Star Motorsports)