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Fuji Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s latest notebook from the WEC paddock at Fuji Speedway…

Photo: Porsche

***The two Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AERs were limited to a combined 15 laps in Free Practice 1 because of an issue with their data receivers which led to the FIA requesting to park both cars.

***Mike Simpson told Sportscar365 that the LNT squad could have continued to run its cars, which were otherwise operable, with the malfunctioning receiver but decided not to in the interest of avoiding a fine. Both Ginettas returned in Free Practice 2 with new devices and completed 53 laps between them.

***Kamui Kobayashi has expressed concern over the performance deficit his No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid will face in the first WEC round to feature LMP1 success handicaps. “We expected the sister car to improve, but when I looked at the data it seemed to be even more than four-tenths,” he said. “When you lose fuel, you lose power, so you don’t recover any speed before the corners. I don’t think the calculation was right, so it’s been quite difficult.”

***The No. 7 Toyota has been equalized to run 1.4 seconds slower per lap of Fuji than it was at Silverstone. As noted by Autosport, this reflects a change of the coefficient used to calculate the penalties after the Silverstone season-opener. It was initially supposed to be 0.008s per km per lap, but is instead 0.012s per km per lap. Two coefficient changes have been made this season already.

***LNT driver Ben Hanley reckons it’s been difficult to feel the effect of his No. 5 Ginetta’s theoretical handicap of 0.66s per lap. “I’d like to say we can feel a change but we haven’t driven here before with the weight, so it’s tricky,” he told Sportscar365. “It feels like I can feel it more in the last sector, but we’re making changes as well to iron some out car balance niggles, so it’s [not obvious].”

***Mike Wainwright is interested in buying the new Porsche 911 RSR-19 when it becomes available to customers next season. The Gulf Racing driver told Sportscar365 that the decision for his next purchase is between a GTE or GT3 Porsche racer. “The reality is that for next year, you will need a new car [for GTE-Am],” he said. “That decision comes early next year. I have a car if I want one, so it’s more than likely that I will go for it. It’s not confirmed, but likely that I’ll stay in WEC.”

***Dempsey-Proton Racing was fined €2000 ($2200 USD) for the late driver announcements of Adrien de Leener and Satoshi Hoshino in its No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR. Team principal Christian Ried said the team’s No. 88 crew for Shanghai has not yet been decided.

***Ried added that the No. 78 Proton Competition Porsche, which is contesting Shanghai next month, is only contracted for that race at the moment. The chassis is the same that its all-Monegasque driver lineup used at Le Mans earlier this year.

***Team Project 1 has decided who will replace Felipe Fraga in its No. 57 Porsche for the Shanghai and Bahrain rounds, which the Brazilian is missing due to date clashes. It’s understood the identity of the new driver will be revealed next week.

***Egidio Perfetti feels Project 1 is “more prepared” for its second WEC race with two cars after a challenging opening round of the season for the team. “At Silverstone, it was quite a difficult adjustment to sharing the garage, but everything is working well now,” the Norwegian driver told Sportscar365.

***Frits van Eerd was fined €1400 for exceeding the pit lane speed limit by 13 km/h during FP2. The Racing Team Nederland driver also had a couple of spins but was able to recover on both occasions.

***The Cetilar Racing Dallara P217 Gibson also had a wild spin upon entry to Turn 1 but managed to avoid hitting the barriers.

***Toyota today published images of its LMP1 hybrid powertrain for the first time. Click Here to view.

***Members of staff from Toyota’s Higachi-Fuji powertrain facility are present this weekend to support the LMP1 team, with their base just over 10 miles away from Fuji circuit.

***Kazuki Nakajima said he will savor the Toyota TS050 Hybrid’s last appearance in Japan, before the LMP1 car retires at the end of the season: “The [hyper]car next year will be slower than the current car, so we should enjoy this moment a lot,” he said.

***Alexandre Coigny completed 34 laps on Friday and is expected to return to Cool Racing’s driver-crew after sitting out the team’s last two races through injury. The team is, however, short of a member in Japan, with its sporting director Iradj Alexander absent this weekend.

***Former WEC competitors Jamie Campbell-Walter and Nic Minassian have launched their own driver management company, called Bullet Sports Management. Campbell-Walter won the GTE-Am drivers’ title in 2013 while Minassian, who is also a director of IDEC Sport, contested full seasons in 2013 and 2016.

***Saturday’s track action begins with Free Practice 3 at 9:20 a.m. (Thurs. 8:20 p.m. EST, 1:20 a.m. BST) with qualifying taking place at 1:10 p.m. (12:10 a.m. EST, 5:10 a.m. BST).

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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