Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim took the GTE-Pro class victory for Aston Martin Racing in the 6 Hours of Fuji, while the British manufacturer also won in GTE-Am.
The No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE claimed its first win since the 6 Hours of Shanghai last November with a controlling second-half display, after a busy start to the second round of the 2019-20 season.
Thiim set the car out front with a clean dive underneath his teammate Alex Lynn in the No. 97 Aston heading into the chicane in the second hour, which proved to be the race-deciding move.
He and Sorensen went on to dictate the course of the race, leading through two Full Course Yellow periods in the fourth hour to earn the win.
Thiim crossed the line 17.6 seconds ahead of the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, while Aston Martin’s No. 97 car finished third.
The Astons were running first and second in the middle portion of the race until Maxime Martin had a wild moment in the Turn 1 braking zone.
Martin’s evasive action through the gravel runoff cost him 20 seconds to Sorensen, while it also enabled the No. 92 Porsche to close in.
Estre then got ahead shortly after by pitting fully under the first of two Full Course Yellow periods, while the Aston Martin didn’t pit under the full duration of the intervention.
From there, Christensen protected a gap that hovered around 20 seconds until the end of the race.
Ferrari struggled to be competitive at Fuji after initially posing a challenge when Alessandro Pier Guidi snatched the lead on the opening lap.
But the two AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GTE Evos faded after that, with Pier Guidi being passed by both Porsches and Aston Martins while the team’s other car spent most of the race at the back of the class battle.
2017 World GT champions Pier Guidi and Calado ended up finishing fourth, one place ahead of Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina.
The two Ferraris only got ahead of the pole-sitting No. 91 Porsche because of a drive-through penalty caused by excessive track limits abuse.
TF Sport Takes Maiden GTE-Am Victory
Aston Martin customer squad TF Sport was the dominant winner in GTE-Am, with the team scoring its first WEC win with the No. 90 second-generation Vantage.
Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam won from the front of the grid, after TF Sport was handed pole in the wake of a penalty for the No. 57 Team Project 1 Porsche.
The trio set a strong pace at the front and were virtually untouched throughout, with Yoluc establishing a large gap to his bronze-rated rivals in the first stint.
Eastwood and Adam consolidated the Turkish driver’s built-up advantage over the next few stints, with the TF Sport car rarely less than 50 seconds clear of the second-placed car.
Aston works driver Adam took the checkered flag 33 seconds ahead of Nicklas Nielsen, who closed the gap slightly in the final hour in the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari.
Nielsen shared the Silverstone-winning Ferrari with Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo, with the crew finishing ahead of the Project 1 car that started from the back of the grid after its post-qualifying penalty ended up third.
Ben Keating made a charge through the pack in the opening exchanges, with the American passing Christian Ried for third within the first half-hour.
Jeroen Bleekemolen then promoted Project 1 to second with a move on Perrodo into the chicane in hour three, but the positions changed back when Nielsen overtook Felipe Fraga at the end of hour four.
RESULTS: 6H Fuji