6 hours filled with overtakings – updated

6 hours race at the Fuji track was the fourth round in FIA World Endurance Championship.

The weather gods had sent rain over track, so the cars got an extra lap behind the Safety Car before the start.

Racing Team Nederland #29 spun around on the warm-up lap, but the team did choose to put Frits van Eerd in the car.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 had the Pole Position ahead of Rebellion Racing #1 and #3. In LMP2 it was Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 at Pole Position, followed by Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 and #38.

Aston Martin Racing #95 with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen would start first in GTE Pro, ahead of BMW Team MTEK #82 and AMR #97.

In GTE am, Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 was on Pole, ahead of Aston Martin Racing #98 and Dempsey-Proton Racing #77.

When the race started, the two Rebellion Racing cars started to attack each other. Already in Turn 1 they were about to collide, and they continued to drive side-by-side on the first lap.

Racing Team Nederland #29
Photo: JJ Media

Even though Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 started last among the LMP cars, since their laptimes were deleted in the qualifying, it didn’t take more than one and a half laps before they went up to second place.

There was also a war in GTE Pro, where BMW Team MTEK #82 passed Aston Martin Racing #95 for a short time, but they had to give the place back. Actually, Antonio Felix da Costa tried to outbrake Nicki Thiim again, but ended up falling back to fourth place. It meant that Aston Martin Racing was first and second.

Rebellion Racing #3 didn’t do so well either and had to give their place to SMP Racing #1.

Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 had taken the lead in the LMP2 class, in front of Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 and TDS Racing #28.

Gulf Racing #86 went up to second place in GTE An, ahead of Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61, while Paul Dalla Lana in AMR #98 was a bit more calm after a spin on the first lap of the race.

BMW Team MTEK #82 lost out a bit of time and had to fall back to sixth place, after their sister car in #81, as well as Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67.

BMW Team MTEK #82
Photo: JJ Media

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 pitted after 20 minutes, where they got four new intermediates mounted.

SMP Racing #17 lost one tire after just 22 minutes, so Stephane Sarrazin had to limp back to the pits with only three wheels. The mechanics pushed the car into the garage, since the locking mechanism was damaged, which should make sure the tires wouldn’t fall off.

Rebellion Racing #1 also pitted shortly afterwards, as well as DragonSpeed #31 gambled on the softer rain tires.

Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 was back at the front in the LMP2 class, ahead of TDS Racing #28 and Jackie Chan DC Racing #37.

The local team, MR Racing Ferrari #70, had a huge tire explosion on the start-finish straight, which sent Motoaki Ishikawa hard into the armco and spread debris everywhere on the straight. Luckily, Ishikawa was okay, which was more than what one could say about the car, that had lost most of its rear part. It sent out the Safety Car on the track, so that they could remove the debris. The race director chose to send the cars through the pitlane, so that the marshals could clean the straight.

Jackie Chan DC Racing #37
Photo: JJ Media

AF Corse #51 got a puncture, probably because he had driven over some of the debris, and thus had to pit for new tires. The team chose to mount slicks on the car, to try something different from the competitors.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 pitted for slicks, and was mimicked by a whole lot of other cars. SMP Racing #11 overtook the lead, with Jenson Button behind the wheel.

Racing Team Nederland #29 gave Frits van Eerd slicks on, which soon resulted in a spin.

After the majority of the teams had changed to slicks, the rain started to fall again. It cost Rebellion Racing a hard off-track #3, even though the cars were still under Safety Car condition. Gustavo Menezes was in the middle of warming up the tires, but lost control and went off the grass, directly towards the wall. It only got worse when he couldn’t drive the car back to the track, and had to give up trying to get it back to the pits.

SMP Racing #11
Photo: JJ Media

After almost half an hour behind Safety Car, the race was restarted.

Nicolas Lapierre in Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 spun almost straight away, and had to wait for the whole field to pass, before he could get the car to the right direction.

The rain stopped again, and the condition change benefited the cars that were on slicks. The different tire choice also meant that the GT cars were suddenly faster around the corners compared to the LMP2 cars, which caused a huge traffic behind Frits van Eerd, until the cars came to the straight and he could pull away.

The GT drivers became more and more frustrated to drive behind van Eerd and his lack of speed around the corners, as well as early braking points. It ended up with Richard Lietz in Porsche #91 hit #29 from behind and sent the Dutchman around.

The team chose to replace him with Nyck de Vries, who is a faster driver, regardless the weather conditions.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 had taken the lead of the race, with help from different the pitstop strategy between the two Japanese cars, and extended the lead to #8.

Team Project 1 Porsche #56
Photo: JJ Media

TDS Racing #28 had a close incident moment on the track, when Matthieu Vaxiviere spun and just missed the barrier by a few centimetres, but he could continue without any damage on the car.

Aston Martin Racing had gotten it all wrong with their pitstop. Under the Safety Car period, both cars went in for new rain tires, but had to come back in and change back to slicks, shortly after the race was restarted. It made them fall back to eighth and ninth positions in GTE Pro – with only AF Corse Ferrari #71 behind them.

BMW Team MTEK #82 had taken the lead in GTE Pro, and pulled away even more from Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 and Porsche #92 on the next positions.

Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 took the lead in GTE Am ahead of Gulf Racing #86 and Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61.

TF Sport Aston Martin #90
Photo: JJ Media

In the LMP2 class, there was Jackie Chan DC Racing 1-2 with #37 ahead of #38, with TDS Racing #28 on P3.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 led ahead of #8, while Rebellion Racing #1 was the best non-hybrid car, followed by SMP Racing #11.

Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 and Gulf Racing Porsche #86 fought hard for the lead in the GTE Am class.

Porsche #91 and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 had a collision in the chicane, but both cars could continue.

Team Project 1 Porsche #54 had a spin, when Egidio Perfetti got a bit too close to Toyota Gazoo Racing #7, which brushed the Porsche a little bit, and it was enough to spin the Mentos man around.

Both AMR cars still lacked some speed, so Porsche #92 with Michael Christensen roared past the two lime green cars, in the battle for third place.

Pedro Lamy in AMR #98 had a solo spin in Turn 1, but he quickly recovered.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7
Photo: JJ Media

Sam Bird in AF Corse Ferrari #71 went past Michael Christensen in Porsche #92, in the duel for the third place in GTE Pro.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 had slowly but surely caught up their sister car #7, since #7 had older tires on.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77 had to be pushed into the garage, where a bunch of mechanics dipped their heads in the engine bay.

Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 had a solo spin in Turn 1, but Gabriel Aubry quickly got the car back on the right direction.

There was a commotion between Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 and Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61, when #61 outbraked itself in Turn 1. It gave a quick spin for #66, while Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 could be smiling while watching their rearview mirror and saw the other two mess about at the back. The race director chose to give #61 a drive-through penalty for the contact.

Halfway through the race, Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 was leading, ahead of #8, while Rebellion Racing #1 was P3, a bit over a lap behind the two.

Jackie Chan DC Racing held tight in the1-2 positions with #37 in front of #38, and with Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 in third place.

Porsche #92
Photo: JJ Media

BMW Team MTEK #82 had four seconds lead to AF Corse Ferrari #71, but they came closer and closer together. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 was P3.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 was back in front in GTE Am, men but the picture was a bit blurry, since there were different strategies in play. Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 was P2, ahead of Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61.

AF Corse Ferrari #71 overtook BMW Team MTEK #82 out on the track, in what in reality was the first place in GTE Pro.

SMP Racing #17 had a brief stop at the track, where Matevos Isaakyan got it started again.

Porsche #92 and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67 fought hard for third place in GTE Pro, throughout several laps.

With a bit over two hours left, there was another problem for Racing Team Nederland #29, where Giedo van der Garde lost a wheel. He fought to get the car back to the pits, and it got pushed back to the garage afterwards. It was the so-called wheel hub that was broken, so the wheel fell off and the brake disc was also about to fall off.

SMP Racing #17 again stalled on the track, but this time it couldn’t be restarted. It deployed a Safety Car so that the car could get removed.

It took five minutes before the track was ready again.

With under two hours left, SMP Racing #11 was pushed into the garage. Super disappointing, since they had good speed earlier in the race. The team had to change the generator belt, which sent them far down in the LMP1 field.

DragonSpeed #10 got a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line on the pit entrance.

Rebellion Racing #1
Photo: JJ Media

100 minutes before the chequered flag, there was a good battle for the first place in GTE Am between Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61 and Team Project 1 Porsche #56.

One and a half hours before finish, AF Corse Ferrari #71 got their rear suspension broken, after a contact with DragonSpeed #31. That ended their dream of victory. DragonSpeed #31 also had to pit with a damaged front suspension. The Ferrari mechanics were super quick and had repaired the car only in seven minutes.

TF Sport Aston Martin #90 slowly got themselves up to second place in GTE Am, by overtaking Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88.

At the start of the last hour, Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 was leading ahead of #8 and Rebellion Racing #1. In LMP2, Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 was first, ahead of their sister car #38, and Signatech Alpine Matmut #36. GTE Pro was led by Porsche #92, in front of BMW Team MTEK #82 and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67. Team Project 1 Porsche #54 was first in GTE Am, followed by TF Sport Aston Martin #90 and Aston Martin Racing #98.

DragonSpeed #10 stopped in the middle of the track and had to be towed away, under a local yellow flag, which luckily didn’t affect the race.

In the last twenty minutes there was a battle for fourth place, where Bykolles Racing Team #4 had been most of the race. But they had some problems with the turbo, which caused them to drive slower and slower per lap, while SMP Racing #11 was on the way up through the field again, after their problems earlier.

Spirit of Race Ferrari #54 went pas Clearwater Racing Ferrari #61 with only 15 minutes left. It was only for sixth place, but it could still mean valuable points at the end of the season.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67
Photo: JJ Media

Jenson Button in #11 went past James Rossiter in #4 with ten minutes left, and overtook fourth place.

Matteo Cairoli in Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 came past Jonny Adam in TF Sport #90 shortly afterwards, in the battle for second place in GTE Am.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 and BMW Team MTEK #81 had a collision, with five minutes left on the clock, but both could continue.

#54 and #61 were not done fighting, and they drove side by side, bumping sides all the way to the end – with #61 ahead.

Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez won the race, in front of their sister car #8 and Rebellion Racing #1.

Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 with Nabil Jeffri, Weiron Tan and Jazeman Jaafar won in the LMP2 class, ahead of their teammates in#38, as well as Signatech Alpine Matmut #36.

Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre won GTE Pro with Porsche #92, followed by BMW Team MTEK #82 and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #67.

Aston Martin Racing #95 with Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen finished in P7 in GTE Pro.

Team Project 1 Porsche #56 with Egidio Perfetti, Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey won GTE Am, ahead of Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 and TF Sport Aston Martin #90.

The next round of FIA World Endurance Championship will be run in Shanghai at 18 November.


Update: Both Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche cars got a time penalty, since they didn’t stop and refuel long enough in the pits. It means that #88 fell all the way back to fifth position in GTE Am, while #77 finished eighth. It also means that TF Sport Aston Martin #90 went up to second place and AMR #98 on third.

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK #66 got a 30-second time penalty for hitting BMW Team MTEK #81, and it caused the two to swap places on the results standing.

AMR #98 got a 10-second time penalty, because they kept their engine on under refueling. It doesn’t affect their race result.

Last but not least, AF Corse #71 got a 30-second time penalty for hitting DragonSpeed #31. It didn’t cost them any position, since they were already last in their class after the collision.

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