Toyota Gazoo Racing took a memorable 1-2 finish at their home race this afternoon after a dramatic seventh round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship at Fuji Speedway.
In challenging wet and foggy conditions Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson took the No.8 Toyota TS 050 Hybrid to victory.
They headed home the sister No.7 Toyota driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose-Maria Lopez.
Toyota seemed to have a tyre performance throughout the weather affected race which saw six Safety Car periods, one Full Course Yellow and two red flag periods in an eventful race.
The result means that the destination of this year's drivers' title is still not known as the leading No.2 Posrche trio of Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard finished in fourth place. The gap between them and the No.8 Toyota crew is now 39 points with 52 to play for in the last two races of the season.
Rounding out the podium was the No.1 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy.
Andre Lotterer started the race but suffered contact with the back of Buemi’s Toyota. A broken dive plane from his 919 Hybrid affected his pace and he soon fell back to fourth position.
However, after taking a new front bodywork section Neel Jani and Nick Tandy fought back and were in contention to challenge for the win before the multiple stoppages for rain and fog came.
Vaillante Rebellion come through to win again in LMP2
LMP2 saw the Vaillante Rebellion crew of Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal take their second victory of the season.
Bruno Senna and Nicolas Prost completed epic multiple stints at the wheel of the No.31 car to lead home the Signatech Alpine car of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Andre Negrao.
Completing the LMP2 podium was the points leading No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car of Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent. They still lead the LMP2 points table but now by a reduced lead of 10pts to Senna and Canal.
The race featured a spectacular and controversial incident between CEFC Manor TRS Racing driver Jan-Eric Vergne and No.13 Vaillante Rebellion racer Matthias Beche in the fourth hour. The two touched several times before Beche impacted the barriers.
51,000 dedicated fans witnessed the action at Fuji in difficult conditions, cementing the reputation of Japanese fans as some of the most passionate in the world of motorsport.
Ferrari takes a clean sweep in LMGTE to extend GT World Championship lead
Ferrari claimed maximum points in the LMGTE Pro and Am categories today at a severely weather-disrupted 6 Hours of Fuji, the 7th round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.
AF Corse Ferrari’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi took their No.51 Ferrari 458 GTE to first place in the LMGTE Pro category and their third win of the season, eventually finishing just 0.96s ahead of the No.91 Porsche 911 RSR of Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz.
In third place was the second Porsche GT, the No.92 of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, with the No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi GT, No.71 Ferrari 458 GTE and the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage taking the remaining positions in the top six.
The race was disrupted by six safety car periods and two red flag stoppages during an afternoon which saw fog and rain cover the Fuji Speedway track frequently, and in different intensities. Low visibility was the reason for both the red flag periods, with drivers’ safety being paramount at all times.
Calado and Pier Guido now lead the GT FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship and Ferrari has extended its lead in the GT Manufacturers’ title race to 47 points. Porsche has overtaken Ford for second place after the American manufacturer had a tough weekend and were not able to follow up their 2016 victory.
It was particularly challenging for the drivers of the No.66, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell, who had been leading the GT Drivers’ championship in the first half of the race, and a trip to the gravel trap in fifth hour relegated them to 8th in class.
Spirit of Race take first WEC victory in LMGTE Am
For the 51,000 passionate Japanese fans coming to Fuji Speedway over the three-day weekend, there was just as much close competition and excitement in the LMGTE Am category for them to witness, particularly in today’s race.
Taking a first win of the season and a first victory in the WEC was the Spirit of Race Ferrari trio of Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Miguel Molina.
The No.54 Ferrari 488 GTE was 1.137s ahead of the class pole-sitting No.61 Clearwater Ferrari of Weng Sun Mok, Matt Griffin and local Japanese driver Keita Sawa at the second red flag which was deployed at 15:30 local time. The race was eventually not re-started as weather conditions continue to deteriorate.
Third in class was the No.77 Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR – with team owner Patrick Dempsey present in Japan to see their podium finish – sporting a pink ribbon livery in support of the Dempsey Center cancer charity.
Next stop on the calendar is the 6 Hours of Shanghai on Sunday 5th November, the 8th round of the 9-race 2017 season.
- FIA WEC press release -
Photo (Marius Hecker / AdrenalMedia.com - FIA WEC): Toyota's winning drivers.