FIA WEC Fuji 6 Hours Spa Resources
» Weather was the biggest issue of the weekend. The constant rain for the duration of the weekend was one problem, but a bigger issue was the fog and cloud cover. The clouds coming down off of Mount Fuji caused visibility to drop dramatically, and often without warning. When a cloud bank descended, visibility went from a kilometer to less than 100m within a minute.
» The drops in visibility were the main cause for stoppages. Whilst the track was certainly wet, it was not undriveable for any significant amount of time. The visibility drops tended to come at the first corner, leaving the back of the circuit clear.
» Race Control employed some creative tactics to keep the race going, and increase safety during restarts. On Safety Car starts the pit straight was left under Slow Zone state, meaning the race would actually resume exiting Turn 1. This creative approach to a race start helped improve visibility for cars mid-pack. The entire start straight was put under yellow (but at racing speed) at multiple points to try and keep the race green when visibility dropped.
» Eventually the clouds won, and the race was called with 15 minutes to go. There was almost a restart for a 15 minute dash before Race Control change the decision and aborted. There was almost a collective sigh of relief throughout the pit lane, as the unique situation meant several cars had not run all of the drivers yet.
LMP1 – Toyota sail away, Porsche all at sea
» Toyota missed out on pole due to Buemi being blocked during qualifying. The Porsche 1-2 was not representative of the pace of the cars.
» Toyota wasted no time rectifying the poor qualifying, as both the #7 and #8 passed a struggling Lotterer half way round the first green flag lap. Eventually the championship leading #2 Porsche would go a lap down. Who would’ve called that?
» Porsche struggled with tyre temperatures for the entire race. In the early stages, Lotterer was losing several seconds a lap before the team managed to work out a way to activate the tyre. After it was worked out, the Porsche could match the Toyota in Sectors 1 and 2, but lost out in 3.
» Toyota did not have the same problems activating the tyres. The TS050 generally has higher tyre wear than the Porsche 919, but the upside of this is that in low temperatures the Toyota gets the tyre up to the operating temperature much quicker.
» An interesting insight to the complexity of the cars came via the radio messages. Teams were constantly having to manage battery and hybrid temperatures under Safety Car, often having the drivers discharge the battery to cool the unit down. Another radio call to Buemi suggested opening up the TCX system. Allan McNish commented that this is probably a lateral traction control system, working separately from a longitude traction control system.
LMP2 – Rebellion dominate
» The #31 Rebellion dominated the LMP2 class, aided by a commanding drive by Senna. The Brazilian stayed at the wheel for the majority of the race and led almost every lap. Although the lead was neutralised several times, Senna pulled out comfortable gaps on every restart.
» Nico Lapierre was determined to not let Rebellion run off too far, and dragged the Signatech Alpine up to second. The drive involved several impressive overtaking maneuvers, including two on the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca, both for second place!
» Emmanuel Collard put together a stunning recovery drive for TDS Racing. The #28 Oreca struggled badly in the opening laps, falling back behind most of the GTE field. Collard wasn’t having any of this, and come the end of his stint he’d brought the car up to 4th in class.
» The other car that had a rough time was the #13 Rebellion. Nelson Piquet Jr spun on the exit of the first corner, narrowly being avoided by the rest of the field. Piquet would later have an on-camera rant about the team’s approach to the race.
» The #13 Rebellion was involved in the most significant incident of the race. On a restart, still under yellow, Mathias Beche overlapped his Rebellion with the rear of Jean Eric Vergne’s Manor. Vergne, unhappy with Beche, turned into the side of Beche multiple times before reaching turn 1. Midway round the lap Beche turned over the Manors nose, spun, and made heavy contact with the wall.
» During a post-incident interview, Beche blamed Vergne for losing his car under braking – which isn’t quite what the TV cameras showed. Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Vergne blamed Beche for both incidents, claiming Beche hit him under yellow – again, not what the TV cameras showed. Both drivers were asked to report to the stewards, presumably to be shown some videos.
GTE – Bad day for the 67
» The GTE classes were relatively uneventful, given the challenging conditions. The Porsches were expected to dominate the wet conditions, but it was the #51 Ferrari which took the victory.
» The worst day was for the #67 Ford, which was leading the championship before the race. The car suffered numerous small offs, an incident whilst being lapped, a penalty, and finally ended the day with a sizeable off at turn 1.
» The struggles for the #67 For4d thrust the AF Corse Ferraris into the lead of both GTE Championships.