Full steam ahead for 6 Hours of Fuji
Photo: WEC/Adrenal Media

Full steam ahead for 6 Hours of Fuji

With just over two weeks to go until the 7th round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship at Fuji Speedway in Japan, there are several driver changes on the entry list and plenty of hot topics to be discussed.

With just over two weeks to go until the seventh round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship at Fuji Speedway in Japan, there are several driver changes on the entry list and plenty of hot topics to be discussed as the season approaches its final third.

With the imposing and iconic Mount Fuji acting as a spectacular backdrop to the fast-flowing 2.835-mile (4.583 kilometres) circuit near Oyama, who from among the 26 cars on the grid will scale the mountainous challenge at the 6 Hours of Fuji?

Toyota aiming to repeat 2016 home success

Following the strong pace shown in COTA, there is no doubt that Toyota will be aiming for no less than victory on home ground in Fuji. Toyota Gazoo Racing will be back to its regular line up, which includes the two Japanese stars Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima, the latter once again supported by Anthony Davidson in the No.8 TS050 HYBRID.  The whole team will be working flat out to secure maximum points in front of the numerous and passionate Japanese endurance racing fans.  

Porsche has been in dominant form since Le Mans, and will be looking to seal the FIA World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship as early as possible.  The German team’s open and public stance on team orders would seem to indicate that the No.2 919 Hybrid line up of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber are destined to finish ahead of their team mates in the No.1 car.  Will they succeed – stay tuned and find out on Sunday 15th October.

Open Season in LMP2

There have been three different winners in LMP2 from the last three races which is an indication of how competitive the category is, and hotly contested the championship is turning out to be.  Jackie Chan DC Racing’s No.38 crew of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent still hold a 20-point lead over No.31 Vaillante Rebellion’s Julien Canal, Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna but the Swiss team and victors in the USA, Signatech Alpine Matmut, are chasing hard.

Briton James Rossiter makes a welcome return to the WEC to replace Alex Lynn in the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 Gibson, while Ben Hanley remains with CEFC Manor TRS Racing in the No.24 entry.

LMGTE classes wide open again

Porsche GT came tantalisingly close to its first LMGTE Pro victory of 2017, and the fight for the 2017 FIA World Endurance GT Manufacturers Championship is closer than ever.  Ferrari has a 40-point lead, which is by no means insurmountable over the course of the remaining three races, and behind it Ford, Aston Martin and Porsche GT are separated by only 6 points.  There’s all to play for!

AF Corse Ferrari’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi are the only GTE Pro duo to have won twice so far this season, but any of the driver line ups from the eight cars in the class could climb on the top step of the podium in Fuji.  Of note, the No.97 Aston Martin Racing entry falls in line with its competitors and will run just two drivers – Darren Turner and Jonny Adam.

A third Japanese driver will be competing on home ground at Fuji Speedway, Clearwater Racing’s Keita Sawa in the No.61 Ferrari 488 GTE.  The Singaporean team is just 6 points away from the head of the LMGTE Am championship lead, with Aston Martin Racing and Dempsey-Proton Racing in front of it.  All three teams have twice taken maximum points this season and the competition is getting hotter and more intense at every round.
After a first podium placing of the year in Mexico, Gulf Racing’s Porsche unfortunately suffered brake issues at COTA.  The British team will be hoping to bounce back in Japan, with America’s Michael Hedlund replacing team owner/driver Mike Wainwright who has business commitments preventing him from being in the Far East.

The full entry list can be found HERE and the timetable for the weekend HERE.  Detailed within the timetable is the WEC’s first Circuit Safari which will take place on Saturday 14th October just ahead of Free Practice 3.  Places for this unique view of some of the world’s leading sports prototypes and GTE cars will be available to fans with full details on Fuji Speedway’s website HERE.