Fuji WEC: First win for two years for Toyota's Kobayashi and Conway

Toyota secured another dominant World Endurance Championship victory at Fuji, with Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez taking their first win of the 2018/19 superseason

Fuji WEC: First win for two years for Toyota's Kobayashi and Conway

After losing pole, the #7 crew responded in emphatic fashion with an 11-second win over the sister #8 TS050 HYBRID of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso.

It marks Kobayashi and Conway's first WEC win since the 2016 Fuji race, as well as a first series triumph for Lopez.

The two Toyotas were once again in a league of their own, with the best of the non-hybrid LMP1s - the #1 Rebellion R-13 shared by Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna - ending up four laps down in third.

From eighth on the grid the #7 Toyota, started by Kobayashi, had carved its way through to second behind the polesitting #8 car by the end of the second lap on a wet track.

An off-sequence first pitstop set the #7 crew up to take command when a puncture for the MR Racing Ferrari spewed debris all over the main straight and brought out the safety car after 30 minutes.

Nakajima pitted the #8 Toyota just before the pitlane was closed, emerging behind Kobayashi, who inherited a five-second advantage when both men made their second stops to switch to dry tyres.

Conway later pulled away to the tune of 20 seconds as the #8 car appeared to struggle with balance during Alonso's turn at the wheel, leading to a rear deck change when the Spaniard made way for Nakajima in the penultimate hour.

Rebellion came out on top in its battle against SMP Racing to finish as top privateer, although the Russian squad held a decisive edge during the wet first hour.

Jenson Button even led overall after the first 60 minutes by virtue of leaving his first pitstop very late in the #11 BR Engineering BR1, before inevitably falling behind the Toyotas.

But the pendulum swung back towards Rebellion when the track dried, and by the end of the second hour the #1 car had established itself in third.

The SMP podium challenge ended when the #11 car shared by Button, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin hit alternator trouble in the penultimate hour and spent 12 minutes in the garage before recovering to fourth, 11 laps down.

ByKolles' ENSO CLM P1/01 was a distant fifth after struggling with turbo issues for much of the race.

The LMP2 class was again dominated by Jackie Chan DC Racing, as the all-Malaysian #37 crew of Jazeman Jaafar, Weiron Tan and Nabil Jeffri came through for their first class win of the season.

Both Jota-Sport DCR ORECAs benefitted by pitting just before the pitlane closed early on, and were given a comfortable buffer by a spin for nearest rivals TDS Racing in the second hour.

Jaafar, Tan and Jeffri led home the sister #38 car of Ho-Pin Tung, Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry by 26 seconds.

Porsche came through for an unlikely win in the GTE Pro class, with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen extending their points advantage with a second victory of the season in the #92 911 RSR.

But their victory came as a result of the #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon suffering a puncture in the penultimate hour, after colliding with the #31 DragonSpeed ORECA, when it enjoyed a lead of 13 seconds.

After the early safety car shuffled the order, it was the BMW shared by Antonio Felix da Costa and Tom Blomqvist that took a net lead, but as the race progressed it became clear the M8 lacked the pace to win.

But the pair held on to take second, just ahead of the leading Ford GT of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx.

Porsche made it a clean sweep of wins in GTE as Project 1 claimed its first-ever Am class WEC win.

Jorg Bergmeister, Egidio Perfetti and Patrick Lindsey took the honours ahead of the Dempsey-Proton Porsche shared by Matteo Cairoli, Satoshi Hoshino and Giorgio Roda.

Result

Pos Class Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 230 6h00m21.800s
2 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 230 11.440s
3 LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 226 4 Laps
4 LMP1 M.Aleshin, V.Petrov, J.Button SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 219 11 Laps
5 LMP1 O.Webb, T.Dillmann, J.Rossiter ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/NISMO 219 11 Laps
6 LMP2 J.Jaafar, W.Tan, N.Jeffri Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 217 13 Laps
7 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, G.Aubry, S.Richelmi Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 217 13 Laps
8 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 217 13 Laps
9 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, J-E.Vergne TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 216 14 Laps
10 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, K.Ihara Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 211 19 Laps
11 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre Porsche GT Team Porsche 207 23 Laps
12 GTE Pro T.Blomqvist, A.F.da Costa BMW Team MTEK BMW 207 23 Laps
13 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 207 23 Laps
14 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado AF Corse Ferrari 207 23 Laps
15 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni Porsche GT Team Porsche 207 23 Laps
16 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, N.Thiim Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 206 24 Laps
17 GTE Pro M.Tomczyk, N.Catsburg BMW Team MTEK BMW 206 24 Laps
18 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 206 24 Laps
19 GTE Pro A.Lynn, M.Martin Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 206 24 Laps
20 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, A.Davidson DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 205 25 Laps
21 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, N.de Vries Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 204 26 Laps
22 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird AF Corse Ferrari 202 28 Laps
23 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 201 29 Laps
24 GTE Am S.Yoluc, J.Adam, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 201 29 Laps
25 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 201 29 Laps
26 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, T.Preining Gulf Racing Porsche 201 29 Laps
27 GTE Am S.Hoshino, G.Roda, M.Cairoli Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 201 29 Laps
28 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 200 30 Laps
29 GTE Am Mok W.S., K.Sawa, M.Griffin Clearwater Racing Ferrari 200 30 Laps
30 GTE Am C.Ried, J.Andlauer, M.Campbell Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 176 54 Laps
- LMP1 J.Allen, B.Hanley DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 179 Retirement
- LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, M.Isaakyan SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 132 Retirement
- LMP1 M.Beche, T.Laurent, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 23 Retirement
- GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 14 Retirement

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 84
1 Kazuki Nakajima 84
1 Sebastien Buemi 84
2 Jose Maria Lopez 71
2 Kamui Kobayashi 71
2 Mike Conway 71
3 Gustavo Menezes 63
3 Mathias Beche 63
3 Thomas Laurent 63
4 Andre Lotterer 51
4 Neel Jani 51
5 Jazeman Jaafar 34
5 Nabil Jeffri 34
5 Weiron Tan 34
6 Bruno Senna 33
7 Andre Negrao 33
7 Nicolas Lapierre 33
7 Pierre Thiriet 33
8 Gabriel Aubry 32
8 Ho-Pin Tung 32
8 Stephane Richelmi 32
9 Oliver Webb 22
9 Tom Dillmann 22
10 Mikhail Aleshin 22
10 Vitaly Petrov 22
11 Pastor Maldonado 16.5
11 Roberto Gonzalez 16.5
12 Egor Orudzhev 15
12 Stephane Sarrazin 15
13 Dominik Kraihamer 12
14 Jenson Button 12
15 James Rossiter 10
16 Nathanael Berthon 10
17 Frits van Eerd 8
17 Giedo van der Garde 8
18 Anthony Davidson 6.5
19 Erwin Creed 5.5
19 Romano Ricci 5.5
20 Francois Perrodo 5
20 Matthieu Vaxiviere 5
21 Nyck de Vries 4.5
22 Jan Lammers 3.5
23 Loic Duval 3
24 Jean-Eric Vergne 2
25 Thomas Dagoneau 2
26 Yoshiharu Mori 2
27 Charlie Robertson 1
27 Leo Roussel 1
27 Mike Simpson 1
28 Keiko Ihara 1
29 Julien Canal 0.5
30 Ben Hanley 0.5
30 Henrik Hedman 0.5
30 Renger van der Zande 0.5
31 Matevos Isaakyan 0
32 James Allen 0
33 Alex Brundle 0
33 Oliver Rowland 0
33 Oliver Turvey 0
34 Rene Binder 0


shares
comments
BoP 'presents' determined Fuji GTE qualifying - Kevin Estre

Previous article

BoP 'presents' determined Fuji GTE qualifying - Kevin Estre

Next article

Kamui Kobayashi: 'Risky' tyre strategy led to Fuji WEC win

Kamui Kobayashi: 'Risky' tyre strategy led to Fuji WEC win
Load comments

About this article

Series WEC
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi , Mike Conway
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Jamie Klein
How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname Plus

How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname

Sportscar racing lost one of it's greatest talents 20 years ago today when Bob Wollek was knocked from his bicycle prior to the Sebring 12 Hours. The enigmatic Frenchman never won the Le Mans 24 Hours, but many still remember today why 'Brilliant Bob' became a legend

WEC
Mar 16, 2021
Top 10 moments of an underrated British great Plus

Top 10 moments of an underrated British great

Brian Redman was one of the best sportscar drivers of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a three-time champion on the fearsome American Formula 5000 scene. To celebrate his 84th birthday Autosport contacted him about his best races – and he decided to write the piece himself…

WEC
Mar 9, 2021
How an endurance racing boom could help one of LMP2's top teams Plus

How an endurance racing boom could help one of LMP2's top teams

The G-Drive squad has been a mainstay of endurance racing in recent years, and has linked up with Russian manufacturer Aurus in recent years to promote its brand. With a change of rules in endurance racing's top tables, the team could be well-placed to take advantage of a potential boom...

WEC
Mar 7, 2021
How Ferrari’s Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc’s legacy Plus

How Ferrari’s Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc’s legacy

OPINION: Ferrari's planned return to the top category at the Le Mans 24 Hours has further heightened anticipation for the 2023 race. Few concrete details are currently known, but already it has a high-profile superstar angling for involvement, which would make a refreshing change

WEC
Mar 5, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar exile Plus

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger Plus

The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger

Toyota's new GR010 contender for the World Endurance Championship's Hypercar era has little in common with the LMP1 TS050 that preceded it. But within the confines of the scaled back new rules, its latest challenger will be no less formidable a prospect

WEC
Jan 22, 2021
The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era Plus

The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era

Porsche is returning to the top class of Le Mans with an LMDh prototype that it hopes will write its next successful chapter in sportscar racing. But it will have to go some to emulate its 956/962, a car which defines the Group C age more than any other

WEC
Dec 16, 2020
How Kristensen forged the Mr Le Mans legend Plus

How Kristensen forged the Mr Le Mans legend

He is synonymous with success at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but Tom Kristensen's sportscar legacy amounts to much more than his record-breaking nine Le Mans wins, as the most successful driver ever at Sebring and a world champion to boot

WEC
Dec 5, 2020