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Fuji Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from Fuji Speedway…

Photo: Adrenal Media/FIA WEC

Photo: Adrenal Media/FIA WEC

***Sunday’s race was one of the first times team orders affected the outcome of the overall victory in a FIA World Endurance Championship race, with Neel Jani relinquishing his lead to Timo Bernhard in the closing minutes to give Bernhard and co-drivers Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley the win.

***The No. 17 Porsche trio take over the lead of the Drivers’ World Championship by a single point over Audi’s Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, which also benefited from apparent team orders to finish third in the race. It marked the second time in three races Audi has swapped its cars around late in the race.

***With another 1-2 finish, Porsche extended its lead in the Manufacturer’s World Championship to 53 points over Audi heading into next month’s penultimate round of the season in Shanghai.

***A final decision on the Richard Bradley/Gustavo Yacaman incident is expected to come by the Shanghai weekend, with the FIA Technical Committee now set to investigate data provided by KCMG that shows Bradley not braking early in the incident that caused the two LMP2 cars to collide while fighting for a podium finish on Sunday.

***Bradley, season-long co-driver Matt Howson and the Hong Kong-based team lost the lead of the LMP2 championship as a result of their race-ending accident and now trail Shanghai winners Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal by 12 points in what will no doubt turn into a heated title race.

***Remarkably, the class-winning No. 26 Ligier JS P2 Nissan only used two sets of Dunlop tires the entire race, including a massive four-hour, 622 km long stint on a single set of intermediates, before switching to slicks. The GTE-Am class-winning Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche, meanwhile, quadruple-stinted its Michelin tires.

***Bird will be one of three young WEC drivers to get a chance to sample factory LMP1 machinery next month during an official LMP1 Rookie Test in Bahrain. The former GP2 ace will test a Toyota TS040 Hybrid, with Richie Stanaway (Audi) and Mitch Evans (Porsche) also set for their LMP1 debuts. “I’m very happy to be a part of it and I’ll do my best to ensure the test goes very well,” Bird told Sportscar365.

***Fuji was only the second declared wet race of the season in the WEC, despite numerous damp and/or wet Free Practice sessions earlier this year. The race started under a 40-minute safety car period, almost in shades of the 2013 race, which also started under the safety car but was called after 16 laps.

***FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said a return to Brazil for 2016 was not in the cards due to the country’s current economic situation, and upcoming Olympic games, with all focus turning to Mexico City, an event that is in the process of being finalized.

“At this moment, we have a very serious contact in Mexico and have established a very good link, which is not the case in Brazil at the moment,” Neveu told Sportscar365. “If we go to Mexico, we establish a new story there. The only thing I can be sure, we’ll never do two dates in Latin America.”

***Rumors persist of a shakeup in Toyota’s 2016 driver lineup, with potentially two of the three drivers in its No. 2 car not returning after not being able to match the pace of its sister entry all season. “It’s far to early to think about that. We prefer to discuss that a little bit later,” Pascal Vasselon said.

***Toyota’s Vasselon, however, revealed his concerns of the possible long-term impact of the VW emissions scandal on the WEC. “There is a threat of the championship because of that,” he told Sportscar365. “It will of course depend on the nature of the decisions and the direction taken by Audi and Porsche in terms of motorsport for the future.”

***The FIA’s 1,000 horsepower limit for LMP1 cars will only be in effect for Grade 2 circuits, like Le Mans, following a clarification by the ACO made this weekend. There will, however, be a season-long reduction of 10 MJ of energy that will impact lap times at every circuit next year.

***Nissan LMP1 engineers were spotted at Fuji for the second consecutive race. The Japanese manufacturer, which hasn’t competed since its debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, announced earlier this month that its front-engined, front-wheel drive Nissan GT-R LM NISMO will not return to competition until 2016. 

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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