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Results and Pictures From WEC Round 7 at Six Hours of Fuji

Few post-war circuits are as legendary as Fuji Speedway. From James Hunt and Niki Lauda’s epic battle at the end of the 1976 season, to intense JGTC competition, Fuji really hosts it all. The most recent round of the WEC’s 2017 season, the Six Hours of Fuji, did not result in victory for Porsche in any class. While Porsche LMP1 and GT cars finished on the podium, ultimate victory was claimed by Toyota on their home turf in Japan under red flag conditions.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche LMP Team (2): Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Porsche LMP Team (1): Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy

 

Race Report: LMP1

At the close of Round 7, Porsche retains the LMP1 class lead over Toyota, with 270 points to Toyota’s 211.5. Despite promising qualifying at Fuji, rainy conditions, and a poorly-timed pit stop hindered the team’s performance on-track. Heavy rain and fog slowed lap times significantly compared to previous years. Earl Bamber claimed the fastest lap of the race, with a 1:37.702. For reference, the all-time fastest LMP1 lap at Fuji was set by Mark Webber in qualifying two years ago at 1:22, followed by his fastest race lap the same weekend of 1:27.759.

Lengthy periods under caution, and numerous laps following the safety car hindered Porsche’s ability to maintain leads over their Japanese rivals in LMP1. With the safety car on-track from the start to lap 5, again from lap 29 to lap 33, nearly continuously from lap 79 through lap 94, and finally from lap 111 until the race was ended under red flag conditions, the team’s finely tuned pit strategy began to come unglued.

The #1 car of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy saw the most passing action of the two Porsches. After starting in second place, the #1 car fell to fourth place behind the two Toyotas during lap 6. By lap 22, Lotterer passed the trailing Toyota to gain third place. Tandy claimed the lead from Toyota at lap 77. After a lengthy caution period, followed by about twenty laps of racing, the team ultimately lost their lead. A tire change at lap 111 saw them rejoin the race in third overall, where they remained until the race was red-flagged on lap 114.

The #2 car, driven by Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley started from the pole, with Earl Bamber performing his first ever WEC start in the 919 Hybrid. Bamber maintained the lead through the second safety car period at the end of lap 28. When the race was first red-flagged at lap 39, the #2 car required a fuel stop. When the race re-started after the red flag, the #2 car required an immediate pit stop, pushing them to fourth place. Timo Bernhard took over after the restart, and was lapped by the #8 Toyota on lap 56, just before the next safety car period. The #2 car ended the race in the pits for refuelling, having been unsuccessful in regaining the lost lap.

Porsche retains a commanding lead in the points standings in LMP1, with a 68.5 point lead over their sole competitors. Team principal Andreas Seidl had the following to say:

« Congratulations to Toyota for winning in Fuji. The pendulum today swung back and forth several times. Before the first red flag, we were gambling. If it would have been the end of the race, we would have won it with our number 2 car. But with the timing of the ultimate red flag we were unlucky. If the race had continued, we would have seen a battle for victory between the number 7 Toyota and our number 1 car. We generally had difficulties getting the tyres to work at the re-starts causing us to drop back a few times. However, it is important that we take home some more points for both championship classifications. It was a very difficult weekend for our drivers and the entire team but everyone stayed focused which I thank them for.”

LMP1 Gallery

Porsche 911 RSR (91), Porsche GT Team: Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki

 

Race Report: GTE

Porsche’s GT effort proved much more successful in the wet conditions, with both cars finishing on the podium. Richard Lietzand and Frédéric Makowiecki claimed second in class, trailing the leading Ferrari 488 GTE. Due to a crash, Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre were robbed of their lead, and finished third overall. Following balance of performance issues in previous races, the 911 RSR found its pace, and was consistently fast throughout the weekend. The team had the following to say:

Alex Stehlig, Programme Manager WEC: “The conditions today were very tricky. The many safety car phases and red flags made it very difficult for the engineers to make the right decisions. However, the team worked brilliantly and had interpreted these interruptions correctly. It was bitter that an already lapped competitor cost our leading #92 car a possible win. The #91 drove a steady race, but directly after the restart it didn’t have the pace for a short time to fend off the Ferrari. Second and third are still great results. We were among the fastest over the entire race weekend. It’s a shame that it wasn’t enough to yield our first win in this world championship.”

The #91 RSR started the race on the pole, and was able to hold the lead for a period between safety car stretches.  Ferrari ultimately won overall, stretching their championship lead to 238 points to Porsche’s 191. Leitz and Makowiecki remain within striking distance in the driver’s championship standing and trail Guidi and Calado by just five points.

In GTE Am, Porsches achieved 3rd and 4th place finishes.

GT Gallery

The post Results and Pictures From WEC Round 7 at Six Hours of Fuji appeared first on FLATSIXES.

La pluie gène Porsche au Mont Fuji

Porsche 2 bamber bernhard hartleyLa 7e des 9 manches du championnat du monde d’endurance (WEC) 2017 a été compliquée pour Porsche. Les deux 919 Hybrid ont &ea …

Rain, fog, red flag: Porsche 919 Hybrids finish third and fourth

The Porsche LMP Team had to be content with third and fourth place finishes
at the seventh of nine rounds of the FIA WEC. The Porsche GT Team scored two podium spots with the Porsche 911 RSR.

 

FIA WEC: Porsche Dominates Qualifying for 6 Hours of Fuji

Porsche has won both LMP1 and LMGTE poles for tomorrow’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji after battling through a rain struck qualifying session at the Fuji Speedway. Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley won their second pole of the season in the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid after setting an average time of 1m35.160s. The #1 […]

FIA WEC: Porsche Dominates Qualifying for 6 Hours of Fuji

 

The Porsche 919 Hybrids lock out front row in Fuji

The two Porsche 919 Hybrids will start from the front row for the six-hour race at the Fuji International Speedway.

WEC: Porsche clocks the day’s best time in rainy Fuji

The two Porsche 919 Hybrids were fastest in the first practice session.

2016 FIA WEC: Six Hours of Fuji race report

All good things must come to an end and so it was that at the Six Hours of Fuji – the seventh round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship – Porsche’s winning run in the LMP1 class was ended by a strong performance by the Toyota squad.

Since taking its 18th victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche had been unbeaten in the WEC, the no. 1 crew of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley winning the last three races to add to the no. 2 car’s triumph at La Sarthe.

However, at the Fuji International Speedway (situated in the shadow of Mount Fuji, 60 miles southwest of Tokyo) the Porsche 919 Hybrid duo’s domination was curtailed in what was undoubtedly the most competitive WEC race since this Le Mans.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb

The no. 1 Porsche’s strong form continued in qualifying where Webber and Bernhard combined to put the car second on the grid, a mere 0.025s behind the pole-sitting no. 8 Audi R18 and just 0.144s ahead of the no. 5 Toyota TS050.

Neel Jani and Marc Lieb still couldn’t rekindle their Le Mans form however, unable to break under the 1m24s barrier in the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid they had to start sixth in the championship-leading entry they shared with Romain Dumas.

The no. 2 Porsche’s pace didn’t improve in the race either. After momentarily getting up to fifth on the first lap, Dumas spent much of the first stint in sixth until the demise of the no. 7 Audi to technical problems handed the position back to the Frenchman.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber

From here, the race was a relatively lonely yet difficult one for the championship leaders. Stymied by handling issues (partly due to rubber build-up affecting the aerodynamics), Dumas, Jani and Lieb could only reach the chequered flag in fifth, seeing their lead in the drivers’ championship diminish as a result.

Meanwhile, Webber, Hartley and Bernhard were kept right in the thick of the lead battle for most of the six-hour encounter around the ex-Japanese Grand Prix venue. After Webber dropped to third during the opening stint, Bernhard was able to regain the position as the race passed halfway distance.

Cooler temperatures were helping the no. 1 Porsche as the German began closing in on the lead Audi throughout the rest of his stint only for Hartley to rejoin the track back behind the no .6 Toyota after the next fuel and tyre stop.

Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley (l-r)

The 26-year-old fought tooth-and-nail, swapping positions with the TS050 several times until the final round of fuel stops when Webber got back behind the wheel. Porsche decided to take a fresh set of tyres while Toyota gambled on keeping their old set, the shorter stop time gaining the Japanese team track position.

The move paid off for the no. 6 car though, giving Toyota its first FIA WEC win since 2014 as Webber had to settle for third. The result saw Porsche extend its lead in the manufacturers’ battle to 59 points over Audi, while the no. 1 crew’s podium kept their slim drivers’ championship hopes alive.

In the GTE-Pro class, Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen in the Demsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR again struggled against their newer competition, coming home last in class, a lap behind the sixth-placed car.

Porsche 911 RSR (77), Dempsey Proton Racing: Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen

The Porsche 911 RSR also had to fight an uphill battle in the GTE-Am class although there was a least a little more reason to cheer as the KCMG squad of Christian Ried, Joel Camathias and Wolf Henzler took their second podium of the year.

Finishing third for the second successive race, the no. 78 entry saw off the Gulf Racing 911 RSR of Adam Carroll, Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker, the British squad just missing out on a debut WEC podium for the third consecutive race.

On outright pace however, the iconically-liveried blue-and-orange 911 RSR was the fastest GTE-Am Porsche with Barker lapping faster than any of the other Am-class 911 drivers in qualifying and the race.

For all the latest Porsche race news and reports, make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

Porsche 911 RSR (86), Gulf Racing: Michael Wainwright, Adam Carroll, Ben Barker

WEC, 7ème manche à Fuji : course difficile pour Porsche

m16-5020La Japon n’a pas réussi au Team Porsche. L’équipage champion du monde Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley et Mark Webber termine 3ème. …

WEC: Porsche 919 Hybrids back on front row

The two Porsche 919 Hybrids will start from positions two and six on the grid for the seventh round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the Fuji International Speedway in Japan.

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2016 FIA WEC: Six Hours of Fuji preview

While most race series have already reached their conclusions, over the next six weeks, the FIA World Endurance Championship hits the busiest part of its season, starting this weekend with the Six Hours of Fuji in Japan.

The first of three flyaway events, this weekend’s race at the former home of the Japanese Grand Prix is part of a Far East double-header, with the WEC circus heading to China for the Six Hours of Shangahi on 4-6 November before the 2016 season finally comes to a close in Bahrain on 17-19 November.

Mathematically, it is possible that the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid line up of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas could wrap up the 2016 FIA World Endurance Driver’s Championship this weekend at the Japanese circuit.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb

Heading to Japan, the crew (winner’s this year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans) enjoy a 37.5-point advantage over the no. 8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with 50 points left to play for after the conclusion of the Six Hours of Fuji.

It’s an outside chance at best, especially with the no.2 Porsche not enjoying the best of luck in recent races. Since winning Le Mans, Jani, Lieb and Dumas have been hampered by small issues, limiting the trio to a pair of fourth places in Texas and Mexico.

Instead, it has been the no. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber (the latter announcing yesterday that he will retire at the end of the season) who have been in the ascendency, winning the last two races to bring themselves back in with a slim chance of retaining their 2015 titles.

fia-wec-gte-pro-proton

The reigning champions’ current advantage seemed to have stayed with them in free practice too, the no. 1 entry setting the fastest time of the day, with the no.2 car a second further back in fourth (albeit just a tenth behind the two Audis).

In the GTE-Pro class, any hopes Porsche had of retaining its 2015 crowns have been virtually extinguished this year, the updated 2016 911 RSR struggling to keep pace with its turbocharged rivals (often as a result of unfair BoP changes).

Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen sit 51 points off the top of the table heading to Fuji, although the duo – driving the no. 77 Dempsey-Proton RSR – were second fastest in the first free practice session, just 0.329s slower than the pace-setting no. 67 Ford GT’s time of 1m39.216s.

fia-wec-gte-am-proton

The Porsche 911 RSRs greatest chance of success comes in the GTE-Am class where the no. 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton entry of Patrick Long, David Heinemeier Hansson and Khaled Al Qubaisi is right in the thick of the title battle, sitting second in the points behind the no. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 458.

The battle between the leading Am class Porsche and the Ferrari looks to continue around the 2.84-mile Fuji International Speedway, both cars setting comparable times in free practice with the 911 RSR fractionally ahead so far on ultimate pace.

After a third free practice session tomorrow morning, qualifying gets underway 2:00pm local time tomorrow before the six-hour race kicks off at 11am on Sunday morning.

For all the latest Porsche race news and reports, make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

Porsche 911 RSR (86), Gulf Racing: Michael Wainwright, Adam Carroll, Ben Barker

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