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WEC Fuji Hours: Toyota one-two in mixed conditions

Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed a one-two victory on home soil at today’s 6 Hours of Fuji – round 2 of FIA WEC Season 8 – which saw mixed conditions throughout the race.

The No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley started today’s race on pole position. It is the fourth win at Fuji for home driver Nakajima and marks the seventh WEC victory for Toyota at the Fuji Speedway since the championship’s inception back in 2012.

It was a near-perfect drive for the No. 8 car today as they took a lights-to-flag victory, with the only incident during the six-hour race being a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. The sister No. 7 car driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José Maria Lopez finished 33.955s adrift of the winning Toyota.

Rebellion Racing took the third podium spot in LMP1 after a relatively trouble-free race with its trio of drivers Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato. The race’s opening 30 minutes saw the No. 1 Rebellion R13 car spearheading the two Toyotas before the No. 7 car edged in front and steadily built up an advantage for the remainder of the race.

Team LNT had a difficult race with its Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AERs due to technical teething troubles including a six-minute stop and go penalty for the No. 6 car in the final hour due to a technical infringement.

Debut LMP2 victory for Racing Team Nederland

The fiercely-competitive LMP2 category saw various different leaders over the course of today’s 6 hour race but it was Racing Team Nederland who crossed the finish line first with recently-crowned FIA F2 Champion Nyck De Vries at the wheel of the No.29 ORECA 07 – Gibson car.

The Dutch team’s trio of De Vries, Frits Van Eerd and Giedo Van Der Garde celebrated a first win for Racing Team Nederland in the WEC, which sees the team catapulted to the top of the LMP2 standings.

British team JOTA, fronted by Anthony Davidson, Antonio Felix Da Costa and Roberto Gonzales, put up a strong fight in the No.38 but a slower stop in the pits in the final hour meant that the team finished 25.808s behind their Dutch rivals. After a solid performance, Jackie Chan DC Racing took the third podium spot in the No. 37 ORECA driven by Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Will Stevens.

United Autosports ended today’s race fourth, the Anglo-American team suffering from a small off due to changing conditions on the track. Fifth overall in LMP2 was the No. 22 High Class Racing entry driven by Kenta Yamashita, Mark Patterson and Anders Fjordbach. Kentashita’s knowledge of the Fuji Speedway circuit helped put the team were in winning contention but unfortunately a spin mid-race followed by a lengthy stop in the pits meant the team eventually finished fifth.

Cool Racing secured sixth place, one spot ahead of Signatech Alpine Elf who made contact at T1 at the start of the second hour, dropping them down the field. Cetilar Racing finished eighth, the Italian team suffering from technical issues with their Dallara P217.

Aston Martin take the double in LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am

Aston Martin celebrated victory in both the LMGTE Pro and Am categories at the 6 Hours of Fuji today,

The factory Aston Martin Racing team took a commanding 1st and 3rd in the manufacturers’ category, and TF Sport won in LMGTE Am with the Aston Martin Vantage.

The Dane Train of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim took the No.95 Aston Martin Vantage AMR to the British marque’s first victory in Fuji since 2013, with a faultless display of driving in mixed conditions. It was the No.95’s first win since Shanghai last year.

The duo took the lead just before the second hour, just as weather and track conditions were beginning to get tricky due to showers. They won a lap ahead of the No.92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre.

Third in the LMGTE Pro class, and on a different strategy to its sister car, was the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin. They took the chequered flag 24.6 seconds behind the Porsche.

Following a strong start, and a great battle in the opening hours between all three manufacturers, the race settled into a rhythm – despite increasing rain in the third hour.

Ferrari’s strategy was compromised by the first of two Full Course Yellows which fell in the fourth hour and they were unable to regain the ground lost to their rivals. Despite setting fastest LMGTE Pro lap of the race, James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE had to be satisfied with 4th in class, one lap ahead of their team-mates in the No.71 (Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina).

It was not a race to be celebrated for the class Pole winners, the No.91 Porsche GT Team entry, with a drive through penalty in the first hour adding to their woes.

43,300 fans enjoyed the 3 days of activity at the 6 Hours of Fuji and, despite some light showers, the conditions were far more favourable than the last two years!

TF Sport dominated the LMGTE Am category at Fuji after the new Aston Martin Vantage started race from pole. After finishing 4th in the WEC 4 times, it was the first victory for the British privateer entry in the hands of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam.

It was a first win in the WEC for a Turkish driver (Yoluc), and a first series GTE Am win for the second-generation Vantage AMR.

Next up in the FIA WEC calendar is the 4 Hours of Shanghai, China, Round 3 on 8-10 November.