WEC Fuji: Toyota #8 crew boost title hopes with victory
Toyota romped to a dominant 1-2 finish in Sunday’s penultimate round of the 2022 World Endurance Championship at Fuji, as Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley claimed victory.
The two Toyota GR010 HYBRIDs were in a class of their own on the Japanese marque’s home turf, and it was the #8 crew of Buemi, Hirakawa and Hartley that held a decisive edge in race trim over the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez to set up a final round showdown with Alpine.
The result puts Buemi, Hirakawa and Hartley level on points with Alpine trio Nicolas Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andre Negrao, who finished a distant third behind the two Toyotas.
Kobayashi maintained the lead from pole at the start, initially building a small buffer over team-mate Buemi, but in the second hour Buemi closed the gap and at the 1h38 mark Toyota made the call to swap its two cars, putting the faster #8 ahead.
Looking after its tyres over a stint much better than the #7 car, the #8 was never threatened for the rest of a race that was devoid of any safety car or full course yellow periods.
Hirakawa finally took the chequered flag 1m08s clear for he and his team-mates’ second win of the year following their success in the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 was never a factor for the lead fight, dropping off the lead lap in the fourth hour and ending up two laps down in the final reckoning.
Peugeot looked like it had the pace to challenge for a podium finish with the quicker of its two 9X8s, only for both of its entries to suffer reliability issues.
The #94 Peugeot had run third, ahead of the Alpine, in the second hour in the hands of James Rossiter. But in the third hour, after Loic Duval had taken over, the car was seen trailing smoke which prompted a 20-minute trip to the garage to fix an oil leak.
#93 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8: Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Jean-Eric Vergne
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
That promoted the #93 car, which had struggled for pace early on in Jean-Eric Vergne’s hands, to a fourth place it held to the flag. Vergne, Paul di Resta and Mikkel Jensen finished seven laps down following a seven-minute garage trip in the fourth hour.
Rossiter, Duval and Gustavo Menezes were classified fifth and last in Hypercar, 15 laps down, also receiving a one-minute stop-and-go penalty for a technical infringement.
LMP2: WRT beats Jota to victory
In the LMP2 class, WRT’s #31 entry of Robin Frijns, Sean Gelael and Dries Vanthoor - standing in for Rene Rast with the German on DTM duty at Spa - scored a second victory of the season.
From fourth on the grid, Gelael charged to the front of the order at the wheel of the #31 WRT ORECA on the opening lap ahead of Roberto Gonzalez in the #38 Jota ORECA.
It was Jota that proved WRT’s closest challenger with both of its cars in the lead fight, despite the #28 car driven by Jonathan Aberdein losing time on the first lap after being hit by the Algarve Pro Racing car of Steven Thomas at Turn 10.
Frijns led the #38 Jota car of Will Stevens by around 16 seconds heading into the closing stages, making his final splash-and-dash with 15 minutes to go.
Stevens had to bail out of his stint with four minutes left on the clock, allowing Frijns to take the chequered flag by a lap in the final classification.
Jota’s second car shared by Aberdein, Ed Jones and Oliver Rasmussen hung on to the final podium spot against the Monza-winning Realteam by WRT ORECA of Ferdinand Habsburg, Rui Andrade and Norman Nato.
#31 WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson LMP2: Sean Gelael, Robin Frijns, Dries Vanthoor
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
United Autosports didn’t have the pace to threaten the class frontrunners, with its pair of ORECA finishing fifth and seventh either side of Prema’s solo entry.
LMP2 Pro/Am honours went to AF Corse trio Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera for the third time this season.
GTE Pro: Ferrari 1-2 as Porsche, Corvette struggle
Ferrari put on a clinic in the GTE Pro class as Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado extended their points advantage with their second win of 2022.
Despite a fierce battle in the early stages between both Ferraris and the two factory Porsches, the Italian marque gained the upper hand towards the end of the first hour when the two AF Corse-run 488 GTE Evos moved ahead.
Over the course of the second hour the best of the Porsche 911 RSR-19s, the #92 car of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen that had started on pole, slipped 15s off the two Ferraris as they ran in tandem for the bulk of the race.
The #52 Ferrari shared by Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco got ahead in the penultimate hour and led after the final pitstops, but 50 minutes to go Fuoco dropped back behind Calado and dutifully completed a 1-2 for the Italian brand.
Estre and Christensen were 31s off in the best of the Porsches, but comfortably clear of the sister #91 car driven by Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz, who were handed a drive-through penalty early on for track limits abuse.
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO GTE-PRO: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
Corvette Racing's solo entry of Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner finished fifth, two laps down, after likewise being pinged for track limits and then running out of fuel on its way into the pits just after the one-hour mark.
The TF Sport Aston Martin squad bounced back from Henrique Chaves’ monster crash last time out at Monza to dominate the GTE Am division.
Chaves, Ben Keating and Marco Sorensen crushed the opposition despite Keating briefly losing the advantage in the early stages as fellow Aston squads D’station Racing and NorthWest AMR started with their silver drivers instead of their bronzes.
Iron Dames took a second runner-up finish in a row with its all-female Ferrari crew of Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey, while D’station managed to take a podium finish in its home race with Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii and Charlie Fagg.
WEC 6 Hours of Fuji Race Results
|1||8|| Sébastien Buemi
|Toyota GR010 - Hybrid||HYPERCAR||232||6:01'23.341|
|2||7|| Mike Conway
Jose Maria Lopez
|Toyota GR010 - Hybrid||HYPERCAR||232||6:02:31.723||1'08.382|
|3||36|| Andre Negrao
|Alpine A480||HYPERCAR||230||6:02'14.166||2 Laps|
|4||93|| Paul di Resta
|Peugeot 9X8||HYPERCAR||225||6:01'31.614||7 Laps|
|5||31|| Sean Gelael
|Oreca 07||LMP2||225||6:02'40.272||7 Laps|
|6||38|| Roberto Gonzalez
Antonio Felix da Costa
|Oreca 07||LMP2||224||6:01'25.440||8 Laps|
|7||28|| Oliver Rasmussen
|Oreca 07||LMP2||224||6:01'50.916||8 Laps|
|8||41|| Rui Andrade
|Oreca 07||LMP2||224||6:01'51.479||8 Laps|
|9||23|| Alex Lynn
|Oreca 07||LMP2||224||6:01'58.860||8 Laps|
|10||9|| Robert Kubica
|Oreca 07||LMP2||224||6:02'04.856||8 Laps|
|11||22|| Philip Hanson
|Oreca 07||LMP2||224||6:02'35.370||8 Laps|
|12||1|| Lilou Wadoux
|Oreca 07||LMP2||223||6:01'55.266||9 Laps|
|13||10|| Renger van der Zande
|Oreca 07||LMP2||223||6:02'17.680||9 Laps|
|14||83|| François Perrodo
|Oreca 07||LMP2||223||6:02'18.454||9 Laps|
|15||34|| Jakub Smiechowski
|Oreca 07||LMP2||222||6:02'26.268||10 Laps|
|16||35|| Jean Baptiste Lahaye
|Oreca 07||LMP2||221||6:02'16.911||11 Laps|
|17||51|| Alessandro Pier Guidi
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE PRO||217||6:01'53.049||15 Laps|
|18||52|| Miguel Molina
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE PRO||217||6:01'53.333||15 Laps|
|19||92|| Michael Christensen
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE PRO||217||6:02'24.937||15 Laps|
|20||94|| Loic Duval
|Peugeot 9X8||HYPERCAR||217||6:02'52.754||15 Laps|
|21||91|| Gianmaria Bruni
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE PRO||216||6:01'34.776||16 Laps|
|22||64|| Tommy Milner
|Chevrolet Corvette C8.R||LMGTE PRO||215||6:02'44.245||17 Laps|
|23||33|| Ben Keating
Henrique Chaves Jr.
|Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||213||6:02'43.276||19 Laps|
|24||85|| Rahel Frey
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||212||6:01'38.861||20 Laps|
|25||777|| Satoshi Hoshino
|Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||212||6:01'55.643||20 Laps|
|26||54|| Thomas Flohr
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||212||6:01'57.907||20 Laps|
|27||98|| Paul Dalla Lana
|Aston Martin Vantage AMR||LMGTE AM||212||6:02'41.874||20 Laps|
|28||46|| Matteo Cairoli
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||211||6:01'26.578||21 Laps|
|29||71|| Franck Dezoteux
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||211||6:01'37.091||21 Laps|
|30||56|| Takeshi Kimura
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||211||6:02'22.538||21 Laps|
|31||88|| Fred Poordad
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||211||6:02'36.573||21 Laps|
|32||21|| Simon Mann
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||211||6:02'40.564||21 Laps|
|33||60|| Claudio Schiavoni
|Ferrari 488 GTE EVO||LMGTE AM||211||6:02'53.930||21 Laps|
|34||45|| Thomas Steven
|Oreca 07||LMP2||199||6:02'12.116||33 Laps|
|35||86|| Michael Wainwright
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||193||6:02'32.720||39 Laps|
|77|| Christian Ried
|Porsche 911 RSR - 19||LMGTE AM||128||3:40'42.051||104 Laps|
|View full results|
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