Porsche will remain with its high-downforce aero kit for this weekend’s Six Hours of Fuji, the German manufacturer has confirmed, after initially evaluating a switch back to the Le Mans-spec low downforce package for the Japanese round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The two-time and defending LMP1 World Champions had considered reverting to the aero package it started the season with, due to the circuit’s long, one-mile front straight.
WEC regulations for this year permit only two aero kits per season, which saw the Porsches run in low downforce configuration at Silverstone and Spa, as well as Le Mans, and debut its high-downforce kit in the fourth round at the Nürburgring.
“In terms of aerodynamics, Fuji Speedway requires contradicting qualities of a race car,” said team principal Andreas Seidl. “1.5 of the 4.5 kilometer long lap is simply straight on and asks for minimum drag. But the 16 corners require downforce.
“We have carefully analyzed data and simulations and have decided to go for our high downforce kit. Within the prescribed possibilities, we will tune it towards medium downforce.”
Porsche LMP1 Vice President Fritz Enzinger said the long straight will “challenge” their engines, in what could be its toughest fight of the season against Toyota.
The Japanese manufacturer claimed victory at Fuji last year, in a race that saw cars from all three LMP1 manufacturers finish within 18 seconds of each other.
“Most recently in Austin, Toyota was very strong again, and traditionally they tend to go well in their home race,” Porsche’s Neel Jani said. “I think they will be faster than us on the straight. In 2016 lap times were extremely close in qualifying and in the Fuji race.”
Porsche Could Clinch Titles in Fuji
Porsche, however, could still lock up both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ World Championships this weekend, two races early, should it score another 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 clinch the drivers’ title if they finish ahead of the best-placed Toyota TS050 Hybrid.
“Arithmetic doesn’t help anything in a six-hour race,” Enzinger said. “We are on track to defend both our championship titles again and should keep our head down.”