Mixed conditions set up fascinating Fuji encounter
Expectation for another classic duel in the FIA World Endurance Championship has an extra edge at Fuji Speedway this morning, as mixed conditions for the sixth round are forecast.
A wet or damp start of the race is anticipated, ensuring teams and drivers will be pushed to the maximum in terms of strategy and utilising their skills and judgement on the track and in the pits.
Overnight and early morning rain is forecast to relent just before the start of the race at 11.00 local time. However, a likely wet or at least damp track will ensure a level playing field for the 31-car field to entertain and wow the fans both at the track, and watching on television around the world.
“It looks likely we will have some wet running, yes,” said Porsche Director of Race Operations, Andreas Seidl yesterday evening. “This will be a big added challenge for the team and how we run the race, but it looks like a dry afternoon so it will be super-interesting for everyone watching. It will be a big challenge.”
Teams are likely to have to run a compromised set-up which allows a large window of handling characteristics for the variable conditions. Grip levels and management of the tyres - Michelin in LMP1 and GTE and Dunlop in LMP2 - will be crucial throughout the event. The Michelin range includes ‘wet’ tyres which are designed to clear water in persistent rain.
The LMP1 manufacturer teams will also be able to fit the MICHELIN Hybrid which was first introduced in 2012. It doesn’t have a tread pattern and resembles a slick, yet it delivers a high level of grip in damp conditions thanks to the special compound. Teams will also have use of the full wets which, if necessary, are capable of clearing up to 180 litres of water per second.
The only previous running on a full wet track was during gthe first Free Practice session at Silverstone in April, and the two Free Practice sessions at Spa on the Friday. That day, Porsche topped the times in both session, but interestingly the No.1 Toyota TS 040 was second fastest with Anthony Davidson setting the time. Could the changing conditions today give the Japanese manufacturer their best chance of fighting with the Audis and Porsches today?
There is only one way to find out and that is to tune in live to the crucial sixth round of the championship via the official WEC App here