FIA WEC Fuji 6 Hours Resources
Toyota Gazoo Racing took a 1-2 victory at rain soaked 6 Hours of Fuji. The championship leading #8 Toyota TS050 of Nakajima/Davidson/Buemi took their 3rd victory of the year and closed the point gap to the #2 Porsche to 39 points with two races left.
The #7 Toyota of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez completed the 1-2 for Toyota, despite technical issues with the steering wheel. The 1-2 brings Toyota within 60 points of Porsche in the Manufacturers Championship, keeping Toyota’s slim title hopes alive.
Today brings back memories of the 2013 running, where the race did not even take the green flag. This year they managed 115 laps in the 6 hour time limit, but the race was punctured by red flag and safety car periods. Whilst the consistent rainfall was an issue, the early concern was visibility rather than standing water. The dense fog rolling down off of Mount Fuji brought visibility down to less than 100m at times, forcing race control to red flag the race. The race was eventually called with 14 minutes to go. Importantly for Toyota, full points are awarded as the cars had covered 75% distance.
Porsche looked all at sea in the cold, wet conditions. Both cars were unable to get any heat into the Michelin wet weather tyres, losing 5-10 seconds a lap to the Toyotas at the worst points. The performance difference was so great that the #2 Porsche was lapped by the Toyotas and an unscheduled stop for the #7 for a steering wheel change did not take the car out of contention for second overall. It took just half a lap on the final restart for Toyota to get back to 1-2, demonstrating the advantage they have in the cold and wet conditions.
The LMP1 championships are not yet decided, but the Toyota chances are slim. Even wins at Shanghai and Bahrain will need some bad luck for Porsche for Toyota to take the titles.
Rebellion Win Closes LMP2 Points Gap
A commanding victory for the #31 Rebellion closes the points to the championship leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca to just 10 points with 2 races to go. It’s the second win of the year for the #31 car, and the 5th podium out of 6 races. The poor run at the double-points scoring Le Mans means that the #31 is playing catch-up despite the good results.
The points gain for Rebellion was increased by the #36 Signatech Alpine finishing second in class, after a superb early run by Nico Lapierre. The Frenchman was unphased by the wet weather, passing multiple cars on his way up the field. Lapierre made passes on the #38 JC DC car twice, and began threatening the leading Rebellion before the race was called. #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca finished 3rd, and TDS Racing recovered after a poor qualifying to finish 4th.
The most significant incident of the race was for the #13 Rebellion. Mathias Beche and Jean Eric Vergne overlapped approaching a restart, but still under Slow Zone. Vergne made his feelings clear and made light contact with the Rebellion under yellow. After the green the pair resumed the disagreement, and midway round the lap Beche turned over Vergnes nose, sending himself into the wall.
Ferrari win GTE Pro
The #51 AF Corse Ferrari took GTE Pro class honours after a mixed up end decided by pit stops. The victory gives Calado and Pier Guidi a 16 point lead over the #91 Porsche 911 RSR. The #67 Ford GT, previously a championship leader, dropped to 4th in the championship after a trouble-filled race. The #67 endured penalties, bad luck and eventually a significant incident ending in the turn 1 gravel. The car finished last in the class, denting their championship chances.
The strong race for Ferrari allows them to extend their lead in the GTE Manufacturers championship. Ferrari leads Porsche by 48 points, with Ford and Aston Martin a further 14 and 14.5 adrift.
First class win for Spirit of Race Ferrari
Miguel Molina, Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr took their first WEC class victory in the Spirit of the Race Ferrari 488. Second was the Clearwater Ferrari of Mok, Sawa and Griffin. It is the 5th podium for the Clearwater Racing team, and the first for Sawa at his home circuit.