Anthony Davidson admits they were “incredibly lucky” Sunday’s Six Hours of Fuji did not restart earlier in the final hour, as their Toyota TS050 Hybrid had less than ten minutes of fuel in its tank and was due a pit stop.
Davidson and co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima claimed their third FIA World Endurance Championship victory of the season in the weather-impacted race, which was called 14 minutes from the end after two lengthy red flags for low visibility.
The Englishman, who didn’t actually get to drive on Sunday, said they would have had enough fuel for the planned final ten minute resumption, but anything more would have forced the No. 8 Toyota to come into the pits and relinquish its lead.
“We would have made it to the end but we were really incredibly lucky that the fog didn’t start to lift earlier because then we would have definitely have had to do a pit stop,” Davidson told Sportscar365.
“We just about had enough fuel in it, if they had started it at full speed, just about enough to get it home. It would have been very tight but we would have been fine.”
Race Director Eduardo Freitas ultimately called off the restart, due to worsening conditions, handing the Japanese manufacturer a 1-2 finish in one of the most interrupted races in WEC history.
In addition to the two reds, the race featured seven safety car periods, one Full Course Yellow and multiple Slow Zones enacted on restarts, in a first for a WEC race outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It was such a strange race,” Davidson said. “Right from the beginning, Seb was down to do a double stint and then the way that it worked out, he didn’t.
“Kazuki jumped in and basically never got out with the way that the race unfolded. I just sat back and watching him do the work!
“A couple of times, I did have my helmet on, ready to jump in every time there was a Full Course Yellow or a Slow Zone or a safety car or a red flag, but I just never actually got the opportunity to jump in the car.”
Davidson said they were preparing for a pit stop on the lap the red flag came out with 90 minutes remaining.
“I was there with my seat, waiting at the front of the garage, looking down the pit lane waiting for Kazuki to come in,” he said.
“I didn’t have a radio on at that time because I was just waiting. I saw one of the mechanics doing the cross sign with their hands and telling me it’s a red flag, so I couldn’t believe it.
“I saw him line up on the grid and at that moment I’m sure I’ll get to drive because there’s an hour and 40 minutes left, but Kazuki actually said in the car that he knows this place and when the fog comes down at that time of day, it rarely lifts.
“Then we started hoping that by luck, we’d be in a position to not actually have to do that pit stop and still win the race, and that’s exactly what happened.
“It’s like it was meant to be.”
Championship Hopes Still Alive
The 1-2 finish for Toyota Gazoo Racing keeps the Japanese manufacturer’s championship hopes alive heading into Shanghai.
Buemi and Nakajima have closed to within 39 points of Porsche’s Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, who finished fourth on Sunday after struggling in the wet conditions for much of the race.
A total of 52 points remain up for grabs in the final two races of the season.
While having missed last month’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas and therefore not being on equal points to his co-drivers, Davidson said he’ll do everything he can to help keep the glimmer of hope alive.
“I think the inevitable will happen but you never know,” Davidson said. “As long as there’s a mathematical chance, I’m going to do the best I can for Kazuki and Seb to play the team game and try and give them the chance to carry on closing that gap.
“Hopefully, and fingers crossed for them, they’ll take the lead away by the last race in Bahrain. I think it’s a long shot but you never know.”