Audi is poised to clinch its second consecutive manufacturer’s World Championship this weekend at Japan, despite an expected resurgence from LMP1 rival Toyota.
The German manufacturer currently holds a 69-point advantage over Toyota heading into the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, meaning a finish for either one of its diesel-powered hybrids will be enough to wrap up the title with two races still to go.
For the first time since the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota will field a pair of TS030 Hybrids in a bid for its first victory of the year. Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kaz Nakajima scored top honors in Fuji last year, in what was a monumental win on home soil for the auto giant.
However, with an Audi having yet to retire all season, their odds of wrapping up the title look favorable heading into Sunday’s race.
“Fuji wont be an easy task for us because, for one, challenger Toyota will be fielding two cars in the race, and, for the other, we saw last year that the track doesn’t suit us so well,” said head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “But we’re going to leave no stone unturned to continue our string of success.”
Audi is coming off victory at Circuit of The Americas, which marked their 100th LMP overall win since the debut of the R8 less than 15 years ago.
The win for the No. 2 car of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval extended their lead to 33 points over teammates Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. But with 78 points still up for grabs, the title fight could go either way, particularly if the championship leaders hit trouble.
“Tom, Loic and I have a clear objective in Japan – to win the race from pole-position like we did in the previous race in Texas,” McNish said. “That’s our objective but I’m also sure there is going to be very strong competition from Toyota and of course the sister Audi, so there is still a long way to go in terms of the [driver’s] title race but we’re looking forward to the fight.”