Like every year since the inception of the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC), the competitors will head to Fuji and the Toyota circuit to participate in the six-hour race, the seventh of nine rounds on the 2017 calendar.
Though the Japanese circuit is not necessarily a driver favorite, the setting of the Fuji International Speedway at the foot of Mount Fuji more than makes up for it. The volcano, called "Fuji-san" by the Japanese, has not erupted in more than 300 years and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the cultural heading. The seismic activity is a delight for hot water enthusiasts: "onsen" hot springs are plentiful in the surrounding area, allowing "ryokan" (traditional Japanese inns) to pop up across the region of the five lakes where the circuit is located. Alas, the drivers will probably not have the time for a soothing soak!
The entry list includes four changes, one per class, in relation to the 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas. In LMP1, head driver Anthony Davidson will return at the wheel of the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid after missing the American race for personal reasons and being replaced by Stéphane Sarrazin, who has driven all three of the Japanese marque's cars this season.
In LMP2, Alex Lynn will be absent for the second time of the season after the Nürburgring. This time he is set to be replaced by James Rossiter who will compete in his third race of the season in the championship after driving ByKOLLES Racing Team's CLM P1/01 at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps. Also returning, in another car as well, is Mike Hedlund replacing Michael Wainwright in Gulf Racing's Porsche 911 in the LMGTE Am class. The California native debuted at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this past June in Proton Competition's Porsche, like Daniel Serra debuted with Aston Martin Racing at the start of the season. The Brazilian driver, who won the LMGTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be absent for the first time this season, leaving his two teammates - Darren Turner and Jonny Adam - to fend for themselves, like the other driver line-ups in the class.
Once again the drivers will have to contend with a wet track (several editions have been disrupted by rain showers). The weather forecast is rather dismal at this point with an almost 100% chance of rain, including Friday scheduled to kick off at 11:00 a.m. local time with a 90-minute free practice followed by a second session at 3:30 p.m.
Then the competitors will have to wait until Saturday for the final one-hour session beginning at 10:30 a.m. before heading into the 20-minute qualifying sessions at 2:30 p.m. for the LMGTE Pros and LMGTE Ams, then at 3:00 p.m. for the LMP1s and LMP2s. Meanwhile, spectators can take advantage of a scheduled two-hour pitwalk from 12:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., including a 30-minute autograph session at 12:45 p.m. If fans miss that opportunity for interaction with the drivers in Japan, another is set for Sunday, October 15th from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. within a pitwalk from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. before the start of the 6 Hours of Fuji at 11:00 a.m. All times are local, substract eight hours for the U.K..
PHOTO (Copyright - AdrenalMedia.com/FIA WEC): This year, the view of Mount Fuji will most likely not be clearer than in 2016 when the drivers made their recon lap in preparation for the 6 Hours of Fuji.