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Fuji Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ notebook from Thursday at Fuji Speedway…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***A trip to Fuji Speedway is not complete without a visit to the old banking outside Turn 1. The circuit, built in 1965, was originally designed to be a 2.5-mile high-banked superspeedway to host NASCAR-style races in Japan. However, budget issues halted the project and only a section of the 30-degree banking was completed, and used through 1974 as part of the road course.

***The 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship schedule will be released on Friday. All signs point towards an eight-round calendar, with the ACO’s proposal to turn the championship into a winter series apparently being put on hold. A press conference is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. local time.

***For the second consecutive year, the Six Hours of Fuji could be under threat, with Super Typhoon Vongfong expected to hit mainland Japan between Sunday to Monday morning. With sustained winds of 180 mph, it’s solidly the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane and is the strongest tropical cyclone of the year. Last year’s race was called short, after just 16 laps, due to heavy rain.

***Nicolas Lapierre misses his first FIA WEC race of the season, due to personal reasons. The Frenchman, who currently leads the World Championship with Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, has been part of six of Toyota’s seven wins in the series. It’s unclear if he will return for Shanghai, although a team representative confirmed intentions of retaining him for 2015.

***Another current Toyota driver, meanwhile, is set to join Nissan’s LMP1 effort next year, as well as the likelihood of a current top level pilot from both LMP1-L and LMP2. Further information on Nissan’s 2015 program could be released this weekend.  The car’s launch is still scheduled for Dec. 8 in Florida, with on-track testing at Sebring scheduled for Dec. 9-11.

***Nearly a dozen drivers are fresh off last weekend’s Petit Le Mans, including Pierre Kaffer, Gustavo Yacaman, Alex Brundle, Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Pilet, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Mike Skeen, Michele Rugolo, Andrea Bertolini, David Heinemeier Hansson and Christoffer Nygaard.

***More than 150 local school children visited Fuji Speedway today to get an up-close and personal view of the cars prior to the start of track activity. The children presented drawings to each of the teams, which are hung in the garage windows, showing their support for the globe-trotting championship’s visit to Japan.

***On-track activity kicks off tomorrow with a pair of 90-minute Free Practice sessions scheduled for 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. local. While rain greeted teams Thursday afternoon, forecasts call for partly cloudy skies on Friday.

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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