Pre-race and quali
8th race of this FIA WEC season held in Fuji. This is the very legendary track. First sector of this track includes high-speed corners, while 2nd and 3rd sectors are technical, with slow and sweeping turns. There was all about the good balance between speed and handling of the car. But there's also important fact, which may be affected - weather. Last year was the only race at Fuji in WEC history, which went in dry conditions. Porsche and Toyota brouht their cars to Fuji with high-downforce aero package. This is the home track for Toyota and theres was important to brought both cars home in high place and fashion.
Fuji race was the shortest in this season. There was a heavy rain and fog all of the weekend. Porsches was dominant in last races. German Timo Bernhard and kiwis Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber from #2 Porsche won 4 races in a row (Le Mans, Nurburgring, Mexico and Austin), while #1 Porsche with swiss Neel Jani, german Andre Lotterer and britt Nick Tandy behind the wheel earned 2nd places in last three races. Bernhard, Hartley and Bamber arrives at Fuji with 51 points clear advantage from #8 Toyota with swiss Sebastien Buemi, japanese Kazuki Nakajima and britt Anthony Davidson, whos returned to his squad after missed race at COTA. They can win the championship in Fuji. But Porsche changed team tactics before the Fuji. There was all about the helping #1 squad end the championship as high as it possible.
Porsche occupied first row. Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber put #2 Porsche, while Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani put their #1 Porsche 2nd position with only 0,071 seconds gap in rainy and foggy qualifying. Toyota was also good in quali. #8 Toyota put 3rd place with 0.195 seconds gap, while the #7 was much slower with over 1 seconds gap to the pole.
There's was heavy rain and fog around the all course of the track. Safety car leads the pelethon around 4 laps and race started on 5th lap. On the first half of the distance there was intence battle between the Porsche's and Toyota's. But after the red flag, which caused by the fog, Porsche's had struggle with their speed and Toyota #8 took the lead, while #7 with britt Mike Conway, japanese Kamui Kobayashi and argentinian Jose-Maria Lopez, took 2nd place. #1 Porsche down to 3rd place and #2 has all the way down the LMP1 order in 4th. Race has stopped on 1 hours and 30 minutes mark, because of the bad visibility due to dense fog and #8 Toyota GAZOO Racing squad with Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson behind the wheel, while #7 Toyota with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose-Maria Lopez finished 2nd and brought Toyota 1-2 finish home.
#8 shortened the gap to the lead #2 Porsche to 39 points with only two rounds to go. This is still a huge gap and #2 Porsche have the chances to win the drivers in the next round, which will guest at Shanghai. Porsche also leads manufactures championship with 58.8 points advantage over the Toyota.
#38 Jackie Chan Racing squad has brilliant first 4 races of the season. They won 1st round at Silverstone, claims 3rd in 2nd round at Spa, won 24 Hours Of Le Mans in LMP2 category and took 2nd olace overall and was dominant at Nurburgring. But last two races in North America wasn't really good for brit-chinese team. Technical issues in Mexico (9th place) and not really good pace at Austin (4th place). #31 Vaillante Rebellion and #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut has a very succesfull campaign in last two rounds. #31 Rebellion ORECA with brasilian Bruno Senna and frenchmans Julien Canal and Nico Prost won the 6H of Mexico and took 3rd place at COTA, while Signatech-Alpine with american Gustavo Menezes, frenchman Nicolas Lapierre and brasilian Andre Negrao took 2nd at Mexico and dominant win at COTA. They shortened the gap in the championship, but Jackie Chan's and David Cheng's team with chinese Ho-Pin Tung, britt Oliver Jarvis and young frenchman Thomas Laurent still had comfortable lead.
Vaillante Rebellion sweep first row in quali. Swiss Mathias Beche, brasilian Nelson Piquet and dane David Heinemeier-Hansson from #13 squad took the Fuji pole, while #31 took 2nd. Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 took 3rd and #36 Signatech completed second row in 4th.
In first corner after start of the race, pole-sitter Nelson Piquet spun around and dropped down the order.
Bruno Senna in #31 took the lead and pulled away from the field. Nicolas Lapierre almost clipped the spun Piquet and lost some positions. He's made his way up the field and handed Signatech Alpine ORECA to Gustavo Menezes on 2nd position. Ben Hanley from #25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing squad also made a great job on his long stint and handed car over the Jean-Eric Vergne in 3rd. Mathias Beche, who's took the car after Nelson Piquet, tried to overtake Jean-Eric Vergne in Manor, but cars had contact, Beche lost control and crashed into the barriers. #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07 dominated the race and Bruno Senna, Julien Canal and Nicolas Prost won the race after it's stopped in 4 hours and 30 minutes mark. Bruno Senna made a good present for his birthday of course. Signatech Alpine also made a great jon and took 2nd place. #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing squad with Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent finished 3rd.
#31 Vaillante Rebellion shortened the gap in the championship standings to just 10 points. Championship battle is under way.
Last races was really tough for the Ford Chip Ganassi UK team. #67 Ford GT with britts Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell behind the wheel leaded the championship before 6H of Fuji by only some points from #91 Porsche Motorsport squad. Last races were good for AF Corse team Ferrari's 488 GTE ( 2nd at Mexico for #71 with Davide Rigon and Sam Bird; 1st for #51 with James Calado and Alessandro Pier-Guidi at Austin ), Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE (win for #95 with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen at Mexico and 3rd place at Austin) and Porsche Motorsport Porsche 911 RSR ( 3rd at Mexico for #91 with Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki and 2nd for #92 with Michael Christensen and Kevin Este at Austin). In rainy Fuji BOP ( Balance of Permormance ) didn't played any role.
Porsche's and Ferrari's started very good. #91 Porsche kept lead position after the start, while #92 Porsche quickly took 2nd position and #51 Ferrari with Alessandro Pier-Guidi took 3rd. Only they were battle for the lead. Astons were outsiders. Porsche's and Ferrari's were good in rainy contitions. Andy Priaulx tried to unlap himself in #67 Ford GT after surving a penalty. He made contact with Kevin Estre in #92 Porsche, which caused damage on the back of the Ford. Priaulx lost control in 1st Turn and crashed into the barriers. He continued racing, but 8th place was only possible after that. Estre spun around after this contact, but not had any damages of the car and returned onto the track on 3rd position. James Calado, who's took the car from Alessandro Pier-Guidi, chased down Fred Makowiecki and overtook him just before red flag, which ended the race. James Calado and Alessandro Pier-Guidi took the victory in 6H of Fuji, Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki finished 2nd, while Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre finished 3rd.