The #7 Toyota took its first win of the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season having come through the seven cars in the LMP1 class in 6 Hours of Fuji race.
Having attained pole, the #7 Toyota crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway incurred a penalty for Lopez’s speeding in the pitlane and started from eighth as a result at the back of the LMP1 class.
In the race on Sunday, it took them only two laps to slot themselves behind the leading #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima. An early stop due to a safety car period helped the #7 to take the lead.
Once ahead, they managed to create a good gap between them and the sister #8 car as the latter seemingly struggled with balance issues on the damp circuit. It was plain sailing for the #7 Toyota in dry conditions as the crew took its first win of 2018.
It was also Kobayashi and Conway’s first WEC win since the 2016 season while it is Lopez’s first-ever victory in the championship. A second place for #8 crew of Buemi, Alonso and Nakajima meant it extended its points gap in the drivers’ standings.
The #1 Rebellion Racing crew of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna secured third after its sister #3 car of Gustavo Menezes, Mathias Beche and Thomas Laurent retired early on due to a crash for Menezes under the safety car in Turn 1.
The Rebellion team had a stiff fight against the SMP Racing cars especially the #11 crew of Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin. The #11 SMP Racing held an advantage in wet conditions over the #1 Rebellion Racing car.
However, the momentum shifted in dry conditions and with an issue on the SMP Racing car, it meant the Russian team fell back amid the LMP2 cars. It fought back well in the second half of the race to still finish a solid fourth despite a late drama.
The sister #17 SMP Racing car of Stephane Sarrazin, Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev also retired early on after the car stopped on track. The #4 ByKolles of Oliver Webb, Tom Dillmann and James Rossiter were a distant fifth.
The Austrian outfit suffered turbo issues on the ENSO CLM P1/01 for much of the race as it battled against the #10 DragonSpeed of James Allen Ben Hanley until the American squad’s retirement from the race.
Over in the LMP2 category, the race was dominated by the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca of Jazeman Jaffer, Weiron Tan and Nabil Jeffri as the team benefited from an early stop to take its first class win of the 2018 season.
The victory turned even better with the sister #38 car of Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi finished second in a Jackie Chan DC Racing 1-2. The #36 Signatech Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet ended up third.
The French team survived a spin en-route to a podium finish as the pole-sitting crew of #31 DragonSpeed of Anthony Davidson, Pastor Maldonado and Roberto Gonzalez suffered a nightmare race to finish 20th overall and sixth in class.
The #28 TDS Racing Oreca finished fourth in class with #50 Larbre Competition Ligier in fifth from the DragonSpeed car at a distant who had the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara in 21st overall and seventh in class.
LMGTE Pro and Am
It was a stiff fight for victory in the LMGTE Pro class with Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Ford going against each other in the six hours of racing. The #82 BMW MTEK of Antonio Felix da Costa and Tom Blomqvist held net lead in the early stages of the race.
However, they were overtaken by the #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon as well as the #92 Porsche of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen. The BMW though still held on from the #67 Ford of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx.
But a puncture for the #71 Ferrari in the final hour allowed the #92 Porsche to take an unlikely win with #82 BMW scoring its first podium since the return to WEC. The #67 Ford took third from the #51 AF Corse Ferrari.
Like its #71 car, the #51 also had a puncture but it was early in the race. The #71 eventually finished 10th in class while classified 22nd overall. The #91 Porsche took fifth from #66 Ford in the order,
It was a tough outing for the two Aston Martin cars with the #95 only finishing seventh while the #97 was ninth with the #81 BMW in between them. As mentioned, the #71 Ferrari rounded out the Top 10.
In the LMGTE Am fight, the #56 Team 1 Project Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister, Egidio Perfetti and Patrick Lindsey took the win from #88 Dempsey – Proton Racing Porsche of Matteo Cairoli, Satoshi Hoshino and Giorgio Roda.
The #90 TF Sport Aston Martin of Jonathan Adam, Charlie Estwood and Salih Yoluc completed the podium as #98 Aston Martin was fourth from #86 Porsche in the Top 5 positions.