Mark Webber-Timo Bernhard-Brendon Hartley won the 6 hours of Fuji of FIA World Endurance championship for Porsche. It’s the third win in a row for the Team #17 who now is in the lead of the championship. In LMP2, victory for G-Drive Racing and in GTE Pro, Ferrari stops the dominant Porsche’s.
1st HOUR – Audi leading after Safety car
The 6 Hours of Fuji started under wet conditions and safety car due to this track conditions. The Porsche Team of Webber and Dumas from the first grid, followed by the Audi Sport Team Joest and the Toyota Racing cars. On LMP2, Pole position for the G-Drive of Sam Bird as the AF Corse of James Calado was the first of the GTE.
Under safety car period, the Rebellion Racing #12 of Mathias Beche and a Porsche GTE Am spun off in the first lap of the race. Then another GT Am, the Corvette #50 came into the pits for a driver change, the Ferrari #72 also came in but it was for a tyres change. The Ferrari #83 and the Aston Martin #96 did the same one lap later.
The first GTE Pro who came in was the Aston Martin #97 and also a LMP2 came in, it was the G-Drive Racing #28 of González. The Extreme Speed Motorsports #20 of Scott Sharp did the same later. And at LMP1, problems for the Rebellion Racing #13 of Imperatori who had come into the pits due to a wing problems.
After 40 minutes under safety car, the race get underway and Webber went off at turn 3 as Marcel Fassler from Audi #7 overtook the Porsche #18 for the lead of the race. Both Porsche’s drop to 5th and 6th places in no-time. But they react and started to overtake the Toyota’s, but Romain Dumas contact with Toyota #2 at turn 3 and both cars spun off. As Porsche #17 fight with Toyota #1 several laps to finally get third place.
In LMP2, the battle was between the G-Drive of Sam Bird and the KCMG of Nick Tandy for third place, because it was Paul-Loup Chatin with Signatech who was leading. In GTE Pro, Calado from AF Corse #71 made a big gap with the Porsche’s who were racing on second and third place.
2ND HOUR – Fässler and Audi keep the lead
The drivers started to push and Porsche #18 catch Audi #8 for second place battle and after some laps Jarvis was overtook by Dumas before the tyres changes. The Porsche’s only made a fuel stop, Audi’s did the same and Toyota’s made a drivers change. This didn’t help to Audi #8 who lost the third place with Porsche #17 of Mark Webber.
Meanwhile in GTE Pro, Porsche Team Manthey #91 get the lead of the race after a great move on AF Corse. And in LMP2, KCMG overtook the Alpine for the lead of the category for some minutes, because Tandy went off twice and let Paul-Loup Chatin took the lead again in front of Team Sard Morand, who had to defend from KCMG attack. Finally, Tandy takes the advantage for second place.
3rd HOUR – Porsche overtakes Audi for the lead
The rain continued in the track but the tyres of Marcel Fässler didn’t kept the pace to keep the Porsche’s behind him. Dumas overtook the Swiss very quickly but, Webber could not say the same, they had a great side by side battle before the drivers’ changes.
The second pit stop, the manufactures changed the wet tyres for slick tyres and change its drivers. But the most benefit team was the Porsche Team #18 who pit in Full Course Yellow period due to Oliver Webb mistake when he went off at turn 1 and gain a big advantage from his team mates.
Dry conditions helps a lot to André Lotterer from Audi Sport Team Joest #7 who after the FCY, cut the gap on Brendon Hartley and easily overtake him for second position. Meanwhile, Toyota Racing #2 decided to pit again to put wet tyres, but then they had to put the car in the box due to engine problems and a crash with a GT Am car.
In LMP2, Nick Tandy despite race for three hours, he managed to overtake the Signatech Alpine for the lead of the race. The French team then changed Chatin for Nelson Panciaticci. In GTE Pro, Toni Vilander from AF Corse #51 led the race in that moment with a big gap over the Porsche’s.
4th HOUR – Porsche expands his leadership
Despite the great pace from Lotterer, the Porsche Team #17 passed him again in the early minutes of fourth hour. Again, Audi’s were the first to pit as they put a new set of slick tyres.
In LMP2, KCMG pit very late and lost the lead of the category after his driver change. This helps the G-Drive Racing #26 to back in the lead after 3 hours with Julien Canal. In GTE Pro, the AF Corse #51 was catch by the Porsche #92 of Patrick Pilet who after a great battle, took the lead of the race.
The second time of Full course yellow arrived when the Extreme Speed Motorsports #31 of Jonathon Fogarty spun off at last corner. This makes the Audi Sport Team Joest #7 stop for fourth time. And later in LMP2, Matt Howson get back the KCMG to the lead of the group.
5th HOUR – G-Drive and KCMG fighting for LMP2 victory
Audi Sport Team Joest #8 made his fourth stop which caused them to drop to fifth position. The German squad then had to fight with Japanese car driven by Sébastien Buemi, who finally lost the battle.
Then the Porsche’s and Audi #7 made their final drivers changes, where Porsche #17 and Audi #7 cut the gap on Porsche #18.
After the action at pit lane, the Extreme Speed Motorsports #31 made another spun but this time was at turn 1. The place where the Rebellion #13 started to suffer engines problems that force him to abandon.
In LMP2 the G-Drive Racing #26 was leading but KCMG #47 was cutting the gap and getting closer and closer. And in GTE Pro Frédéric Makowiecki with Porsche Team Manthey #92 was in the lead by 5 seconds over AF Corse #51.
6TH HOUR – Not even the penalties stops Porsche
In GTE Pro, Makowiecki was changed by Pillet who kept the first place but made a mistake and lost de leadership of the category. In LMP2, Roman Rusinov lost the lead for G-Drive Racing #26 after been overtaken by Richard Bradley. But the Russian didn’t give up and take the place back before the KCMG was going to do his final pit stop.
Pit stop also for the Porsche’s before the Full Course Yellow. That FCY was very helpful for Signatech Alpine who pits under this situation and gains second place over KCMG who spun and lost a lap with the Alpine.
The action didn’t finish here, Audi #7 crashed with the Porsche GTE Am #88. This wasn’t the worst news for Porsche who received a drive through penalty because improving under yellow flag. Anyway this makes no changes in the standings with Neel Jani leading the way.
The final 30 minutes were…. Amazing. In LMP2, the battle for the last place of the podium between the KCMG and the G-Drive Racing #28 of Yacaman, showed a great side by side battle that finished with a crash. KCMG was so defensive and Yacaman had no room to avoid the Hong Kong car.
Finally it was another one-two for Porsche who wins with the Porsche #17 and not the #18 who led all the race but they received a team orders to let Timo Bernhard win to lead the championship by one point. The same happened in Audi where Audi #7 let Benoît Tréluyer overtake Duval.
So Porsche Team #17 wins for its third time this season ahead of Porsche Team #18 and Audi Sport Team Joest #7 and Audi Sport Team Joest #8. Then on 5th place is Toyota Racing #1 followed by Toyota Racing #2, Rebellion Racing #12 and Team Bykolles #4.
In LMP2, G-Drive Racing #26 wins in Nissan engine soil, Signatech Alpine finished second and G-Drive Racing #28 third.
In GTE Pro, AF Corse #51 stops the momentum of Porsche Team Manthey to win at Fuji. Manthey #92 was second and AF Corse #71 third.
In the standings, Webber-Bernhard-Hartley leads the championship by one point over Lotterer-Tréluyer-Fässler.