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No. 7 Toyota Crew Takes First Win of Season

Lopez, Kobayashi, Conway victorious at Fuji; Porsche wins GTE-Pro…

Photo: MPS Agency

Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway took their first win of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship with a commanding run at Fuji Speedway.

Toyota Gazoo Racing scored its third 1-2 result in four races as the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid beat its sister No. 8 car for the first time this season.

Kobayashi took the checkered flag 11.440 seconds ahead of Kazuki Nakajima after Conway took the lead shortly before the halfway point of Sunday’s six-hour contest.

The Brit opened up a 15-second lead over Sebastien Buemi in the fourth hour before Lopez extended the gap in the next stint against Fernando Alonso.

The margin came down slightly in the final hour but Nakajima was too far adrift challenge Kobayashi for the win.

Rebellion Racing finished third with Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna running four laps down on the Toyotas for their second consecutive podium with the No. 1 Rebellion R13.

They were set to engage in a second-half fight with the No. 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER, but the Russian-entered car lost a lap with an alternator problem.

Jenson Button recovered SMP’s cause in the latter stages, overtaking the ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO of James Rossiter with eleven minutes remaining.

Both Rebellion and SMP lost a car to retirement, with Gustavo Menezes crashing the No. 3 Rebellion out in the early damp conditions and Matevos Isaakyan parking the No. 17 BR1 with a mechanical issue.

The No. 10 DragonSpeed BR1 Gibson also had its race ended early by technical problems.

In LMP2, Jackie Chan DC Racing recorded a second straight 1-2 result as its all-Malaysian lineup of Weiron Tan, Nabil Jeffri and Jazeman Jaafar dominated.

The trio stretched ahead of the sister No. 38 car during the middle portion of the race with Jaafar going on to win by 26 seconds from Ho-Pin Tung, while Signatech Alpine completed the podium ahead of TDS Racing.

Porsche Adds to Petit Triumph

Just hours after its IMSA WeatherTech  SportsCar Championship squad took GT Le Mans class honors at Motul Petit Le Mans, Porsche doubled up its weekend haul with victory in the GTE-Pro category at Fuji.

Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen gradually emerged from a tight class battle involving challenges from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, BMW Team MTEK and AF Corse.

Estre in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR tripled his final stint advantage to 12 seconds over Tom Blomqvist in the No. 82 BMW M8 GTE, while Andy Priaulx crossed the line third in the No. 67 Ford GT.

Priaulx and Estre both overtook Blomqvist’s co-driver Antonio Felix da Costa for second and third positions in hour four with Sam Bird running out front in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE.

However, the Ferrari squad was then frustrated by a left-rear suspension breakage caused by contact with the LMP2-class DragonSpeed Oreca at the chicane, which dropped it to last.

The front three shuffled around in the penultimate hour as the Porsche came to the fore to win for the second time this season and extend its points lead.

Aston Martin’s new-generation Vantage GTE struggled for race pace despite taking pole on Saturday, with the British marque’s cars finishing seventh and ninth.

Porsche also took a victory in GTE-Am as Team Project 1 came through for its first-ever WEC win.

Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti won by 20 seconds from the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Satoshi Hoshino, Matteo Cairoli and Giorgio Roda.

TF Sport’s Aston Martin Vantage completed the podium, while the points-leading Dempsey Porsche finished down in eighth.

RESULTS: 6 Hours of Fuji

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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