Porsche climbs to the top of the GTE mountain in Fuji
The battle was fierce throughout and there were four different manufacturers in the first four places in LMGTE Pro, but ultimately it was Porsche’s day as they took victory in both the LMGTE Pro and Am categories at the conclusion of the 6 Hours of Fuji.
Porsche GT Team’s No.92 911 RSR of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen secured the German marque’s first WEC victory with the current model, finishing 12 seconds ahead of BMW, while 2018 WEC newcomer Team Project 1’s Porsche secured victory in LMGTE Am.
After starting the fourth round of the FIA WEC Super Season in mixed weather and track conditions, the race settled into a rhythm but there was plenty of action in GTE to keep the spectators entertained. Over the duration of the WEC’s annual visit to Japan 52,800 fans visited Fuji Speedway.
The Safety Car was deployed in the first hour following a heavy accident for Motoaki Ishikawa in the No.70 MR Racing Ferrari after a tyre failure, and its timing and the first round of pit stops for all but three of the GTE Pro entries changed the course of the race for many.
Porsche’s two 911 RSRs profited from the timing and the French-Danish driver pairing from the No.92 had a great battle with the No.82 BMW Team MTEK M8 GTE of Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Felix da Costa who eventually finished second in class, the team’s first podium in the WEC.
Third was the No.67 Ford of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx which had muscled through the field early in the race and thereafter maintained its hold on the podium place.
AF Corse’s Ferraris had a disappointing race, suffering untimely punctures and contact in the 5th hour between the No.71 and an LMP2 prototype which caused damage to the left rear suspension. Also disappointed were the Aston Martin Vantages, the No.95 having started from pole, as both lost out in the running by going for a different pit stop strategy to their rivals.
Team Project 1 come through for debut victory
New to the WEC this year is Team Project 1 and Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti today sealed the German team’s first victory, hot on the heels of a podium finish in Silverstone.
The trio started well but then were forced to drop back as they had to fix the number on the car’s door to conform with regulations and feared that the race was lost. It was the first time in WEC history that a Norwegian has taken victory (Perfetti) and the first time for an American driver in LMGTE Am since Patrick Dempsey in 2015.
The action was hot throughout the race in the class, with several door to door battles taking place right to the chequered flag.
Dempsey-Proton Racing enjoyed the expertise of Fuji expert and local racing legend, Satoshi Hoshino, alongside Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli and the trio finished a fine second in the No.88 Porsche 911 RSR.
Coming through to finish a strong third was the No.90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage of Salih Yoluc, Jonny Adam and Charlie Eastwood.
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the 6 Hours of Shanghai on 18th November.