A look back at the 2014 and 2015 Fuji races (+ video)
The second instalment in our series of memorable WEC race in Japan...
2014 – Ferrari and Aston Martin claim the day in GTE
Fuji was the venue for the third win of the season for Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson in the No.8 TS040-Hybrid and a dominant 1-2 finish for Toyota. Pole-sitter Buemi took control following a frantic opening few laps that saw both manufacturer rivals Audi and Porsche lead briefly, although ultimately unable to maintain the overall pace.
An unscheduled stop after 9 laps for Mark Webber’s Porsche which had a slow puncture saw the sister Toyota move into second, and the pair of TS040s never relinquished the lead positions for the last five hours of the race.
Ferrari’s Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander led home a Ferrari 1-2 in LMGTE Pro, the third win of the season for the drivers. The result came despite Bruni having to serve a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits. Championship rivals from Aston Martin and Porsche clashed at the first corner of the first lap, although Aston Martin claimed a convincing 1-2 in GTE Am to make it a more positive day for the British marque.
In LMP2 the Ligier JS P2 chassis had its first overall win anywhere in the world, a third win of the season for G-Drive Racing.
2015 – Porsche breaks the stranglehold
After a learning year in 2014, Porsche was the team to beat at Fuji in 2015, but few would have predicted that outcome based on the evidence of the first few laps under green. After the field was released from behind the safety car, pole-sitter Mark Webber was caught out by the soaking wet conditions and spun at turn two, then Romain Dumas lost ground by accidentally engaging his pitlane speed limiter and subsequently tangled with Alex Wurz’s Toyota.
As a result, both had to play catch-up as Audi streaked clear out front but, as the track dried, the race gradually came to Porsche and ultimately Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley took a third victory of the season.
Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander seized the day for AF Corse for Ferrari ahead of the Porsche of Pilet and Makowiecki who held off the sister F458 Italia of Rigon and Calado by just 1.9 seconds at the chequered flag.
Elsewhere, there was elation for Patrick Dempsey as the American took his first LMGTE Am class win alongside co-drivers Marco Seefried and Patrick Long in the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911, while controversy reigned in LMP2 as championship leaders KCMG crashed out in the closing stages following a physical battle with G-Drive.