Porsche claimed its fourth consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship win following a dominant performance in Sunday’s mixed-condition Six Hours of Fuji.
Timo Bernhard took the No. 17 Porsche 919 Hybrid to a 14.308-second victory over teammate Neel Jani, following team orders that saw Jani slow from the lead with 10 minutes to go.
As a result of their win, Bernhard and co-drivers Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley take over the lead of the Drivers’ World Championship.
The race, which started under a 40-minute long safety car period for track conditions, saw the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fassler stretch out a considerable lead early in the wet.
However, once it began to dry, the Porsches powered through, with Romain Dumas taking over the top spot from Fassler in the third hour, and benefiting from a pit stop during a Full Course Yellow to expand the margin even further.
With Audi fumbling with the wrong tire choice, it appeared to be clear sailing for the No. 17 trio of Jani, Dumas and Marc Lieb, but saw its 50-plus second lead cut in half when it served a drive-through penalty for passing under a yellow.
However, team orders saw Jani hand the win to the No. 17 car, which scores crucial championship points for the German manufacturer.
Both Audis also swapped positions in the closing stages, with the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler finishing third overall.
The trio lost their championship lead and now trail Bernhard, Webber and Hartley by one point heading into next month’s Six Hours of Shanghai.
Loic Duval, Lucas Di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis finished fourth, while the pair of Toyota TS040 Hybrids had a disastrous race on home soil.
The No. 2 Toyota lost nearly 10 laps after contact with a GT car resulted in engine cooling issues in the third hour, relegating the, to sixth, behind the No. 1 entry that lost ground with multiple penalties.
Rebellion Racing scored its second LMP1 Privateer class win of the season, with the No. 12 Rebellion R-One Toyota of Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche finishing a respectable 6th overall in a relatively trouble-free run.
G-Drive Racing scored a controversial class victory in LMP2, with Roman Rusinov, Sam Bird and Julien Canal provisionally taking over the lead of the championship.
It came following multiple incidents between the Russian squad’s two Ligier JS P2 Nissans and the KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan, which still remains under investigation.
Rusniov took the No. 26 Ligier Nissan to a 32.372-second victory over the No. 36 Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan, after late-race contact between Gustavo Yacaman’s No. 28 G-Drive entry and Richard Bradley in the KCMG Oreca-Nissan ended in a heavy crash for the Englishman.
The Hong Kong-backed squad, which entered the weekend as championship leaders, leave Japan with a heavily damaged car and zero points after no fewer than six incidents between the two G-Drive cars in the closing hour.
Yacaman and co-drivers Pipo Derani and Ricardo Gonzalez have provisionally finished third, ahead of the No. 30 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda, which equaled a season-best fourth place result.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Fuji