Porsche leads at half way stage in Fuji thriller
The No.18 Porsche 919 was leading the 6 Hours of Fuji as a spectacular race got to the halfway mark for the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship this afternoon.
The race began behind the Safety Car after heavy morning rain had soaked the 2.83-mile Fuji Speedway track. The first 16 laps of the race were thus controlled before pole-sitter Mark Webber blasted away to lead the race, still in challenging wet conditions.
The early stages of the race saw thrills aplenty as Webber lost control on the first green flag lap and spun the No.17 Porsche 919, just managing to keep the car out of the wall. This handed the lead to Marcel Fassler in the No.7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, and the Swiss driver soon started to build a useful gap to the rest of the pack.
Another significant incident in the first hour saw Alex Wurz in the Toyota TS040 and Romain Dumas’ Porsche 919 Hybrid collide. Both cars spun but were able to return to the track quickly.
Dumas was able to make a good recovery and was eventually got back into second place, overtaking Oliver Jarvis in the No.8 Audi. There was also some frenetic racing between the recovering Webber and local ace Kazuki Nakajima. The two swapped positions on several occasions before Webber suffered a second excursion at turn ten.
In the second hour, with conditions still fully wet, Dumas started to hunt down Fassler for the lead. He made his move just after the two hour mark and made a clean move at Turn one.
Fassler soon fell into the clutches of Webber in the No.17 Porsche and the pair then engaged in a superb battle which lasted for five laps, swapping places at almost every corner. It was a fight that thrilled the crowds and viewers around the world.
The complexion of the race changed after 2hrs 24mins of racing when a Full Course Yellow was thrown for Oli Webb’s stranded Team SARD Morand Morgan at turn one. Romain Dumas pitted just after team mate Webber, which ensured the gap extended to over 50-seconds. All of the front runners went on to the Michelin Hybrid tyres at the second stops.
As the clock ticked round to 2pm to signal three hours of racing, Marc Lieb led the No.7 Audi of Andre Lotterer by 52-seconds, with Brendon Hartley holding a watching brief in the No.17 Porsche, three seconds further back.
The Toyota cars had raced among the Audis and Porsches in the opening hour and, at halfway, the No.1 TS040 HYBRID was in fifth position. However, Anthony Davidson, although just a few seconds from Lucas Di Grassi in the No.8 Audi, was given a drive-through penalty for cutting the pit lane entry line.
The No.2 Toyota was sixth but got wheeled back into its pit box just before the three hour mark with an engine cooling system issue.
The LMP1 privateer class saw the No.12 Rebellion R-One-AER lead the ByKolles CLM P1/01-AER. This was despite Mathias Beche having to serve a stop/go penalty for overtaking before the line after the Safety Car procedure had ended.
KCMG ORECA leads LMP2 class
A typically close and competitive LMP2 category saw the open-cockpit cars from Signatech Alpine and Team SARD Morand Morgan both lead during the first hour.
Oliver Webb had an excellent start in the Team SARD Morand and sprinted through into the lead from third on the LMP2 grid. The British racer led from the Signatech Alpine of Paul-Loup Chatin, but the Frenchman was able to find a way through before the first round of pit stops. However, a charging Nick Tandy in the KCMG ORECA 05-Nissan was soon at the head of the field and was able to open a healthy lead.
Soon though, Chatin was back in the lead of the class after Tandy had a gravelly incident at turn one and dropped to third place. The Le Mans winner fought back though, and was soon in the lead of the class once again. A spin for Nelson Panciatici on his out lap from the pits, after taking over from Chatin, allowed the KCMG car to extend its lead. The Alpine’s spin also allowed Julien Canal’s G-Drive Ligier-Nissan through into second place. The Frenchman's British team mate, Sam Bird, had earlier struggled for pace after the team elected to run on cut-slicks.
Oliver Webb, who had driven excellently in the first two hours, lost time when he beached the Morgan Evo in the Turn One gravel trap while attempting to re-join the track after over-shooting the corner.
RACE FACTS - 3 Hours
- 14:00:04 Drive through penalty for Toyota #1 for crossing pit entry line
- 13:58:21 Rebellion #12 leads privateer P1 class from #4 CLM and Rebellion #13
- 13:56:58 Porsche #77 leads GTE Am from Astons #98 and #96
- 13:55:45 Ferrari #51 leads GTE Pro from Porsches #92 and #91
- 13:54:40 Toyota #2 into pit garage with cooling system problem
- 13:53:48 In P2 Oreca #47 leads from Ligier #26 and Alpine #36
- 13:52:45 Porsche #18 leads by 52 secs from Audi #7 and Porsche #17 after 96 laps
- 13:42:54 Aston #98 takes 2nd in GTE Am from Aston #96
- 13:39:01 Rain reported at post 17
- 13:38:11 Toyota #2 puts wet tyres back on
- 13:37:37 Audi #7 takes 2nd from Porsche #17
- 13:35:31 Porsche #18 leads by 54 secs from #17 after pitstops, Audi #7 in 3rd 2 secs further back
- 13:33:08 Audi #8 has lost windscreen wiper
- 13:31:31 Dumas in Porsche #18 reported brake temperature problem
- 13:29:39 Green Flag again
- 13:27:10 Porsche #17 pits under yellow - Hartley in
- 13:25:25 Porsche #18 pits - Lieb in
- 13:24:38 Full course yellow
- 13:23:33 Morgan #43 in barrier at turn 1
- 13:22:14 Oreca #47 takes lead in P2 after Ligier #26 pits
- 13:19:58 Ligier #26 takes lead in P2
- 13:17:56 Jarvis in Audi #8 into pits - Di Grassi in
- 13:15:51 Audi #7 pits Lotterer in - slicks on car
- 13:12:30 Webber in Porsche #17 takes 2nd place from Audi #7 but then repasses
- 13:08:11 Dumas takes lead in Porsche #18 on lap 71 from Audi #7
- 13:07:13 20 second stop and go for Ferrari #72 for speeding in pitlane
- 13:04:04 Rebellion #12 leads CLM #4 and Rebellion #13 in P1 privateer class
- 13:02:38 In GTE Am Aston #96 leads from Ferraris #83 and #72
- 13:01:32 In GTE Pro Porsche #91 leads Ferrari #51 and Porsche #92
- 13:00:28 In P2 Alpine #36 leads Oreca #47 and Morgan #43
- 12:59:42 After 2 hours Audi #7 leads from Porsches #18 and #17
- 12:57:52 Webber in Porsche #17 now less than 10 seconds from the lead
- 12:54:56 Tandy takes 2nd in P2 in Oreca #47
- 12:50:33 Toyota #2 lapped by Audi #7
- 12:47:42 Aston #96 retakes lead in GTE Am after stop for Ferrari #83
- 12:40:36 Porsche #91 retakes lead in GTE Pro after stop for Aston #97
- 12:39:37 Ferrari #72 reported for speeding in pit lane
- 12:38:45 Aston #97 takes lead of GTE Pro
- 12:34:45 Tandy in leading P2 Oreca #47 goes off and loses lead to Alpine #36
- 12:30:48 Ferrari #83 now leads GTE Am
- 12:29:02 Porsche #91 stops from lead of GTE Pro - all cars have made first pit stop
- 12:27:04 Audi #7 leads by 6 secs after first round of pitstops from Porsche #18
- 12:23:19 Dumas pits and stays in Porsche #18
- 12:22:35 Webber pits in Porsche #17 and stays in
- 12:21:57 Spin for Porsche #88
- 12:20:16 Davidson now in Toyota #1 after pitting
- 12:19:14 Toyota #2 stops Sarrazin in
- 12:18:46 Leading Audi #7 pits
- 12:18:22 Porsche #91 takes lead in GTE Pro
- 12:17:29 Stop for Audi #8
- 12:15:01 Oreca #47 takes lead in P2
- 12:13:28 Drive through penalty for Rebellion #12 leader in privateer P1
- 12:10:29 Porsche #18 takes 2nd place from Audi #8
- 12:09:36 Ligier #30 stops Dalziel in - car now on inters
- 12:06:55 Spin for Dempsey in Porsche #77
- 12:04:56 Rain has stopped and sun coming out
- 12:00:31 Aston #96 leads GTE Am from #83 and #72 Ferraris
- 11:59:19 Ferrari #71 leads GTE Pro from #92 and #91 Porsches
- 11:58:19 In P2 Alpine #36 leads from Morgan #43 and Oreca #47
- 11:57:18 Audi #7 leads from Audi #8 and Porsche #18 in P1
- 11:53:36 Alpine #36 takes lead in P2
- 11:52:59 Audi #7 leads by 9 secs from Audi #8
- 11:51:37 1:33.574 fastest lap for Audi #7
- 11:48:12 Aston #96 takes lead in GTE Am
- 11:46:47 35 second stop and go for #28 for speeding in pit lane
- 11:45:56 Rebellion #13 has rejoined 3 laps down
- 11:45:07 Ferrari #71 leads GTE Pro and Ferrari #72 leads GTE Am
- 11:43:53 Touch between Toyota #2 and Porsche #18 11:42:43 Porsches #18 and #17 in 5th and 6th
- 11:41:57 Morgan #43 leads P2
- 11:40:49 Audi #7 and #8 lead
- 11:40:04 Webber in #17 goes wide at turn 4
- 11:39:14 Green Flag
- 11:39:03 Safety car in at end of lap 17
- 11:38:23 Safety car instructed to go at full speed
- 11:36:59 Rebellion #13 pits with bodywork damage
- 11:34:38 Spin for Rebellion #13
- 11:30:55 Ligier #30 pits Sharp gets in
- 11:22:56 Many cars pitting for deeper grooved "super wet" tyres
- 11:22:21 Ligier #28 reported for speeding in pit lane
- 11:18:42 Aston #96 and #83 Ferrai into pits
- 11:16:28 Ferrari #72 into pits
- 11:15:19 Roda now in Corvette #50
- 11:13:53 Corvette #50 into pits
- 11:10:45 Rebellion #12 has dropped to 16th after spin and Porsche #88 in last after spin
- 11:03:59 Spin for Rebellion #12 and Porsche #88 but continue
- 11:01:53 All cars safely away
- 11:00:47 Green flag behind safety car
- 10:59:21 There will be no formation laps with race starting behind safety car