It was a dream result for Toyota Gazoo Racing at its home race, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) 6 Hours of Fuji, as the Japanese manufacturer secured a one-two result and with it also sealed the manufacturers’ championship. Their fifth in a row!
A total of 54,700 fans attended 6 Hours of Fuji over the weekend – a record crowd number for the Japanese round of WEC. The No. 7 Toyota Gazoo Racing run GR010 Hybrid Hypercar trio of Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway sealed their fourth win of the 2023 season. They headed home the No. 8 sister car of Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa by 39,119 seconds.
Rounding out the top three was Porsche Penske Motorsport who equalled their best result of the season with the No. 6 Porsche 963 driven by Andre Lotterer, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor. The trio were leading for more than half of the race with an exceptional drive from Vanthoor in the opening stint but eventually finished 48s down on the second-placed Toyota.
Le Mans winners Ferrari AF Corse claimed fourth and fifth with No. 50 finishing ahead of the No.51 499P Hypercar. Meanwhile, Hertz Team JOTA took sixth position but lost early momentum after a penalty for an early race collision with No.28 LMP2 sister entry.
Peugeot TotalEnergies finished seventh and eighth with No. 94 9X8 of Gustavo Menezes, Stoffel Vandoorne and Loic Duval leading its stablemate to the finish line. The No. 93 Peugeot lost time after a lengthy pit stop while the team needed to fix a hydraulic issue in the race’s final hour.
Proton Competition Porsche took its first WEC points after crossing the line ninth despite slipping out of contention with a safety belt issue mid-race.
Elsewhere, Cadillac Racing had a difficult race after No.2 V.Series R lost its left front wheel in the penultimate hour followed by several lapses in the pits for repairs. The American squad finally finished tenth, also incurring a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits.
Floyd Vanwall took 11th position in the Vandervell 680 while No.5 Porsche Penske took the final classified position after losing time after a first lap puncture and then a long stop in the fifth hour.
The final round of the 2023 FIA WEC season will take place in the Middle East at the start of November for the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
LMP2: Kubica, Andrade and Deletraz extend points lead with Fuji win
The No.41 Team WRT squad took their second win of the 2023 FIA WEC season and extended their championship points lead at the 6 Hours of Fuji this afternoon.
Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Rui Andrade overhauled pole sitters and early leaders Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Frederick Lubin in the No.22 United Autosports car to win comfortably.
In doing so WRT scored a second consecutive Fuji win and sealed its eighth WEC success to become the second most successful LMP2 team in WEC history.
It was Filipe Albuquerque who controlled the early running but when Kubica took over the No.41 WRT Oreca-Gibson after Rui Andrade’s first stint, the Belgian team started to take control of the race.
Behind Kubica, there was high drama as the sister WRT car driven by Robin Frijns attacked and overtook Albuquerque in the final ten minutes in what appeared to give WRT what would have been a famous 1-2.
However, Albuquerque fought back and put an audacious move on the Dutch ace to steal the runner-up position back. Albuquerque also scooped the Goodyear Wingfoot Award for the driver setting the best average double-stint in LMP2. The Portuguese ace averaged 1m35.524.
Ben Hanley, Oliver Jarvis and Joshua Pierson in the No.23 United Autosports entry finished fourth ahead of the No.36 Alpine ELF Team trio of Charles Milesi, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Julien Canal.
Completing the top six was the Jota Oreca-Gibson of Pietro Fittipaldi, Oliver Rasmussen and David Heinemeier Hansson. They were delayed in the early running when they got spun around by stablemate Antonio Felix da Costa in the No.38 JOTA Porsche 963 Hypercar.
LMGTE Am: No.54 AF Corse Ferrari take Fuji victory
Davide Rigon, Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci celebrated a conclusive win in the LMGTE Am category at Fuji Speedway.
The No.54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo claimed its first win of the 2023 season as it surged to the front in the second half of the race.
Thomas Flohr survived an early contact with the No.33 Corvette Racing Chevrolet C8.R of pole-sitter Ben Keating to hand over to teammate Francesco Castellacci in the second hour.
Castellacci was able to hunt down the Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR 19 and establish the lead before handing it over to Davide Rigon who took the checkered flag.
It was the No.54 AF Corse’s second victory at Fuji after its 2017 success, and Rigon’s first LMGTE Am category win since 2013.
The title-winning No.33 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Ben Keating, Nicolas Varrone and Nicky Catsburg placed second after an eventful race.
Ben Keating collided with Thomas Flohr in the early stages and received a 10-second penalty for the altercation. But strong fuel-saving work by Keating and rapid pace of Varrone and Catsburg ensured they took the runners-up position.
This came after the Kessel Racing Ferrari driven by Ritomo Miyata, Takeshi Kimura and Scott Huffaker was penalized post-race for a late full-course yellow infraction, which demoted them to third place.