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Fuji Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from FIA WEC 6H Fuji…

Photo: Porsche

Photo: Porsche

***Sunday’s Six Hours of Fuji produced the closest-ever overall finish in the the history of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with just 1.439 seconds separating race winner Kamui Kobayashi from Loic Duval. It was also the closest-ever gap between the three LMP1 manufacturers, with the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber crossing the line 17.339 seconds back in third.

***It marked Toyota’s first victory since Bahrain 2014, also coming with Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway, and the Japanese manufacturer’s fourth win at Fuji in five years.

***The race ran without any Full Course Yellows or safety cars, marking the first all-green race since Spa 2015. It was all the more impressive, especially considering the tight gap up front, which saw all three LMP1 manufacturers lead at multiple points.

***Rebellion Racing locked up the LMP1 Privateer title with its finish on Sunday, after another engine-related issue for the No. 4 ByKolles CLM P1/01 AER. Dominik Kraihamer, Matheo Tuscher and Alexandre Imperatori, who claimed their sixth class win in seven races this season, cannot be caught in the final two rounds.

***Handling issues for the No. 2 Porsche, which finished fifth on Sunday, has seen Marc Lieb, Neel Jani and Romain Dumas’ lead in the Drivers’ World Championship reduced to just 23 points over the Fuji-winning Toyota trio. A total of 52 points remain up for grabs in the final two races.

***Porsche, however, came one step further to locking up the Manufacturers’ World Championship, following the retirement of the No. 7 Audi R18 due to hybrid failure. Benoit Treluyer pitted on Lap 18 with a broken motor generator unit, with the team electing to remove the front driveshafts and add the necessary ballast to keep the car compliant.

***However, the technical stewards informed Audi that the car no longer complied with the regulations and the German manufacturer therefore withdrew the car. “Obviously, that’s a real shame,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Because the squad demonstrated a tremendous spirit and did everything to make a central idea of endurance racing reality, which is to finish even under circumstances like these.”

***Porsche now holds a 59-point lead over Audi in the Manufacturer’s World Championship, which along with a number of teams and drivers’ titles, could be locked up in next month’s penultimate round of the season in Shanghai.

***Signatech Alpine’s Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes have a 38-point lead in LMP2, while Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and Francois Perrodo are 33 points ahead in GTE-Am. GTE-Pro sees the tightest title race, with only 10 points separating Aston Martin Racing’s Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim from the AF Corse duo of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird.

***After claiming five poles but missing out on victory due to a number of mechanical issues, G-Drive Racing finally broke through for its first LMP2 class win of the season, albeit with a broken left-rear shock, which failed in the second stint with Will Stevens at the wheel.

***Roman Rusinov overcame some obstacles off the track as well, as the Russian driver clipped a deer on Friday in his Jaguar road car. “I was driving 40 [km/h] and I tried to avoid it. I was out of the white line a little to avoid it, because I remember here last year when Yacaman crashed with Bradley,” Rusinov said in the post-race press conference, in reference to last year’s controversial accident at Fuji between G-Drive and KCMG.

***Rusinov and Sunday’s GTE-Am class winner Pedro Lamy have now tied Gianmaria Bruni as the most winningest drivers in WEC history, at 13 class victories since the championship’s inception in 2012.

***Extreme Speed Motorsports scored its first double top-five class finish in LMP2, with the No. 30 Ligier JS P2 Nissan of the all-new lineup of Antonio Giovanazzi, Sean Gelael and Giedo Van Der Garde finishing fourth, after battling electrical issues, and the No. 31 of Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani and Chris Cumming in fifth.

***Gearbox issues with less than two hours to go took the No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R out of a sure-fire GTE-Am class podium finish. Adding insult to injury, the car was given a 25-lap post-race penalty due to Ricky Taylor not completing the minimum drive time, but still kept the car classified.

***The reported race day attendance for the Six Hours of Fuji was 53,500 spectators, an increase from last year.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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