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Leaving behind the abysmal conditions that marred the Fuji race, the FIA World Endurance Championship moved on to the penultimate race at the Shanghai International Circuit.

The weather in Shanghai shadowed the starting grid with a grey, overcast sky as the drivers lined up, preparing to battle for crucial points that could make or break the entire championship.

The #36 Signatech Alpine car took its position in 5th place in the LMP2 class. This was assigned to the trio after a frustrating qualifying lap saw André Negrão held up during his fastest lap. Regardless of their starting position, the #36 crew found themselves with a unique opportunity to take 2nd in the opening lap as the G-Drive Racing #26 car found itself spinning in the middle of the field during the opening corners.

With a couple of daring overtakes helping Lapierre enter 3rd, Signatech Alpine found themselves taking advantage of the #26 car’s mistake to enter second and race clear of 3rd and 4th. With a podium position suddenly within their grasp, the team accelerated their strategy, which revolved around preserving the car’s tyres and fuel to minimise the amount of pit stops.

By the end of his two stints, Lapierre managed to comfortably maintain second place before handing over to Negrão, whose time at the wheel was eventful. With consistent pressure from rivals, the #36 pilot expertly navigated the course avoiding the many clashes that littered the track.

Just before the race’s halfway point, Gustavo Menezes got his turn behind the wheel and as the race went on, he managed to expertly stick to the strategy, getting as close to the Vaillante Rebellion #31 as possible while still looking to preserve tyres and fuel.

As the race entered the final 90 minutes, Lapierre got back into the pilot’s seat to consolidate their position in not only 2nd place in Shanghai, but 3rd in the overall LMP2 standings with one race left to go. Commenting on the race, Nicolas Lapierre said:

“As it's always difficult to overtake on this track, I took a few risks at the start and that's what enabled me to move up into second place. From then on, we had a perfect race: the mechanics and both my team-mates did a very good job. Finishing as runners-up is the best result we could have hoped for and it leaves us with a small chance of winning the championship.”

Currently, in the LMP2 rankings Signatech Alpine’s #36 sits comfortably in 3rd with 138 points and with one race left in the series, it’s impossible to drop out of a podium position. However, with Jackie Chan DC racing just 19 points in front and Vaillante Rebellion 23 points ahead, there are still enough points in the next race to get the trio back onto the top of the podium for the second year in a row.

The 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship is on the final stretch before the chequered flag brings this season to a close. All the drivers and cars now heading to the Bahrain International Circuit for the 6 Hours of Bahrain on November 18th. With so few points between the top 3, there’s still all to race for among the LMP2 top three and plenty to lose if any teams’ tactics aren’t honed down to a tee.