Points Update following 6 Hours of Fuji
Toyota drivers close the gap for the World Drivers Championship
The points at the top of the FIA World Endurance Championship are closer than ever after Toyota’s drivers prevailed in a nail-biting finish to the 6 Hours of Fuji to vault themselves firmly into contention. In the FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship Porsche has maintained its firm hold, with a lead over Audi of 59 points.
Having entered the weekend third in the standings, half a point behind the No.8 Audi R18 of Loïc Duval, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis, victory for the No.6 TS050 Hybrid crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway on Toyota’s home turf puts them into second with just two rounds remaining. As a result, they now sit just 23 points behind the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas, which has led the points since the beginning of the season.
Duval, di Grassi and Jarvis had to settle for second, but having scored the potentially invaluable point for pole position, the Audi trio are also within striking range of the No. 2 Porsche, which finished fifth in Fuji. They are 28.5 points behind, with 52 available from the last two races.
Third on the rostrum for the No.1 Porsche of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard means they are still in mathematical contention, 46.5 points behind, but they will need problems to befall their team-mates if they are to have any real chance of defending their title.
In the LMP1 Privateer category, Rebellion Racing has of course now secured the 2016 title (separate story to come).
Signatech maintains its hold in LMP2
Although Signatech-Alpine’s fuel-saving strategy didn’t result in victory, Nicolas Lapierre, Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes retain the LMP2 points lead after taking their sixth podium in succession. They have 33 points in hand over the RGR Sport team of Bruno Senna, Filipe Albuquerque and Ricardo Gonzalez, who missed out on a third win of the season by just 1.3 seconds.
Signatech can wrap up the title in the penultimate round at Shanghai if RGR finish fourth or lower. G-Drive’s first victory of the year means Roman Rusinov now stands alone in third, with regular co-driver Rene Rast absent this weekend racing in the DTM.
Closer at the top in LMGTE Pro
The battle for the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers is the closest of all the title fights, with just three points between current leaders Ferrari (236 points) and Aston Martin as points from both LMGTE classes count towards these titles.
A 1-2 finish for Ford means the leaderboard in GTE-Pro is largely unchanged, with Aston Martin duo Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen leading the way on 119 points. Their main rivals Davide Rigon and Sam Bird of Ferrari only managed to outscore them by two points in Fuji, ensuring the Danes will take a 10-point advantage to Shanghai. Darren Turner held onto third, ahead of the second Ferrari of James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni, now 24 points behind Thiim and Sørensen after scoring their fourth consecutive podium. Despite their first victory for Ford, Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx remain seventh.
Aston Martin versus Ferrari in LMGTE Am
Meanwhile in GTE-Am, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana are the only likely obstacle to AF Corse’s Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and Francois Perrodo securing the title. The Aston Martin crew’s fourth win of the year puts them back into second, 33 points behind their nearest rivals, although they will need to outscore their rivals again in China if they are to take the title fight to Bahrain. Khaled al Qubaisi and David Heinemeier-Hansson, who finished fifth with Patrick Long, will have to overturn a 41-point deficit to the Ferrari over the final two races to have any chance of the title, but are well within reach of second, sitting only eight points behind the Aston Martin.