***Only a few changes have been made to the entry list since last month’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Circuit of The Americas, with Anthony Davidson returning to the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid and Mike Hedlund in the No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR, subbing for Michael Wainwright.
***James Rossiter makes his first LMP2 start of the season, in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson as a replacement to Alex Lynn. It’s understood Lynn is unlikely to return to the team this year.
***Aston Martin Racing, meanwhile, has returned to a two-driver lineup for its No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, following a three-race extension of Daniel Serra’s program following the Brazilian’s class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
***Weather is likely to play a major impact this weekend, with rain forecast on Friday and Saturday, and heavy showers for Sunday. Rain has impacted this race before, most notably in 2013 when the race was called after just 16 laps, which was run behind the safety car.
***The No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR has a revised livery this weekend, with pink replacing its blue accents, in support of the Pink Ribbon Foundation. Patrick Dempsey is an advocate for the foundation, with his mother having died after a battle with cancer.
***Porsche can clinch both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ World Championships this weekend, two races early, should it score a 1-2 finish in the race. Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, who have a 51-point lead over Toyota’s Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, meanwhile, would lock up drivers’ title if they finish ahead of the best-placed Toyota TS050 Hybrid.
***Rebellion Racing has made the trip directly from Road Atlanta, with 13 crew members flying from Atlanta to Tokyo on Sunday, and four additional staff, including team manager Bart Hayden, arriving in Japan one day later. A spares package was also air freighted from Atlanta that arrived at the track on Thursday morning.
***Gustavo Menezes, who made his debut with the Anglo-Swiss squad last weekend, returns to Signatech Alpine. The reigning LMP2 World Champion told Sportscar365 that he is working on options for both WEC and the WeatherTech Championship next year, with his run at Petit Le Mans having caught the attention of some U.S. teams.
***James Calado is a new father, with his partner having given birth to Aurelia Calado on Tuesday. The Ferrari factory driver missed last weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans in anticipation of the birth.
***In what’s become an annual tradition, local school children from Mukaida Elementary School took a field trip to Fuji Speedway on Thursday, to get an up-close and personal view of the WEC paddock.