WEC Fuji: Toyota cuts Porsche's lead with win in shortened race

Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima headed home a Toyota one-two in today's weather-shortened Fuji round of the World Endurance Championship

WEC Fuji: Toyota cuts Porsche's lead with win in shortened race

The #8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID was ahead, but due a pitstop, when a second red flag of the race brought an event held entirely in wet conditions to a premature conclusion as low cloud descended on the circuit.

The clock had just ticked past 70 percent duration when the stoppage came, which meant that full points could have been awarded at that point.

It was intended to restart the race for the final 10 minutes of the six hours, but the call came from race control with 14 minutes left on the clock that a result would be called.

WEC rules state that all entered drivers score points even if, like Anthony Davidson in the #8 Toyota, they didn't get behind the wheel.

The victory for the Toyota keeps the title race open going into the penultimate round of the series at Shanghai next month.

Points leaders Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber only needed to finish ahead of Buemi and Nakajima in their Porsche 919 Hybrid to seal the drivers' crown, but they ultimately trailed home a lap down in fourth.

Buemi and Nakajima had an edge on the opposition for much of a race that was interrupted by five full safety-car periods and one virtual safety car, in addition to the 32-minute stoppage in the second hour.

The winning Toyota moved to the front when the race resumed after the first stoppage.

Nakajima was then able to pull away from team-mate Jose Maria Lopez in the sister car in the early stages of the third hour as the Argentina struggled with a windscreen wiper problem.

The Japanese driver lost the lead when he pitted on three hours, but after the field was closed up by a safety car he was able to pass Nick Tandy for second in the #2 Porsche as the race went green.

Nakajima then moved into the lead when Lopez, who shared the #7 Toyota with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway, made the car's third pitstop.

Nakajima was 16s up on Conway when the safety car was sent out five laps before the red flag.

Conway was fighting off the advances of Neel Jani in the #1 Porsche, in which Andre Lotterer had started, when the race was neutralised and then stopped.

Bamber had not pitted in the #2 Porsche when the first red flag was shown, which meant he had to stop for fuel and tyres as the safety car pulled in after the restart.

The time lost by stopping under green-flag conditions relegated Bernhard to fourth, just over a minute down on the #8 Toyota at the front of the field.

Bernhard then struggled in the wet conditions and was lapped by Nakajima early in the third hour, meaning the #2 Porsche's championship lead is down to 39 points with two rounds remaining.

The Rebellion Racing ORECA-Gibson 07 driven by Bruno Senna and Nicolas Prost were declared LMP2 winners before team-mate Julien Canal could drive.

Prost was running approximately 15 seconds ahead of the Signatech Alpine ORECA driven by Nicolas Lapierre and Andre Negrao when the final safety car came out.

The Rebellion ORECA led for the majority of the race, Senna pulling away from the P2 pack in the opening stages.

Ferrari took GTE Pro honours after James Calado was able to take the lead in the run-up to the final yellow.

The Briton, paired as usual with Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, was then able to edge away from Frederic Makowiecki in the best of the factory Porsche 911 RSRs.

Third place went to the second Porsche driven by Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre.

Pre-race GTE Pro points leaders Ganassi Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell had a torrid time and fell to fifth in the championship after finishing eighth and last in class.

Priaulx was given a one-minute stop-go penalty for running a red light in the pits and then sustained a puncture that sent him into the barriers shortly after an incident with Estre.

The AF Corse Ferrari driven by Miguel Molina, Francesco Castellacci and Miguel Molina took GTE Am honours.

They move ahead of the long-time class leader, the Clearwater Ferrari driven by Weng Sun Mok and Matt Griffin when the two cars pitted for what turned out to be the final time.

Result

Pos Class Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 LMP1 S.Buemi, A.Davidson, K.Nakajima Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 113 4h24m50.950s
2 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 113 1.498s
3 LMP1 N.Jani, A.Lotterer, N.Tandy Porsche LMP Team Porsche 113 2.272s
4 LMP1 T.Bernhard, E.Bamber, B.Hartley Porsche LMP Team Porsche 112 1 Lap
5 LMP2 J.Canal, N.Prost, B.Senna Vaillante Rebellion ORECA/Gibson 110 3 Laps
6 LMP2 N.Lapierre, G.Menezes, A.Negrao Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 110 3 Laps
7 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, O.Jarvis, T.Laurent Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 110 3 Laps
8 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, E.Collard TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 110 3 Laps
9 LMP2 M.Rao, B.Hanley, J-E.Vergne CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA/Gibson 110 3 Laps
10 LMP2 R.Rusinov, P.Thiriet, J.Rossiter G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 110 3 Laps
11 GTE Pro J.Calado, A.P.Guidi AF Corse Ferrari 109 4 Laps
12 GTE Pro R.Lietz, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 109 4 Laps
13 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, S.Trummer, V.Petrov CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA/Gibson 109 4 Laps
14 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre Porsche GT Team Porsche 109 4 Laps
15 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 109 4 Laps
16 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird AF Corse Ferrari 109 4 Laps
17 GTE Pro D.Turner, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 109 4 Laps
18 GTE Pro N.Thiim, M.Sorensen Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 108 5 Laps
19 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, M.Molina Spirit of Race Ferrari 107 6 Laps
20 GTE Am Mok W.S., K.Sawa, M.Griffin Clearwater Racing Ferrari 107 6 Laps
21 GTE Am C.Ried, M.Cairoli, M.Dienst Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 107 6 Laps
22 GTE Am M.Hedlund, B.Barker, N.Foster Gulf Racing Porsche 106 7 Laps
23 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 105 8 Laps
24 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 96 17 Laps
- LMP2 M.Beche, D.H.Hansson, N.Piquet Jr. Vaillante Rebellion ORECA/Gibson 85 Disqualified
- LMP2 D.Cheng, A.Brundle, T.Gommendy Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 52 Retirement

Leading drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Timo Bernhard 172
1 Earl Bamber 172
1 Brendon Hartley 172
2 Kazuki Nakajima 133
2 Sebastien Buemi 133
3 Anthony Davidson 118
4 Neel Jani 98
4 Nick Tandy 98
4 Andre Lotterer 98
5 Kamui Kobayashi 78.5
5 Mike Conway 78.5


shares
comments
LMP2 builders Ligier, Dallara and Riley/Multimatic allowed changes

Previous article

LMP2 builders Ligier, Dallara and Riley/Multimatic allowed changes

Next article

Toyota: Lead car didn't need to pit again if Fuji WEC race resumed

Toyota: Lead car didn't need to pit again if Fuji WEC race resumed
Load comments
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Plus

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Plus

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness

WEC
Aug 22, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Plus

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow Plus

Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow

Many were quick to dismiss Glickenhaus when the boutique American sportscar firm's entry into the top class of the Le Mans 24 Hours was announced. It's all-new LMH racer, powered by an engine built by a rally specialist, goes in as the underdog against Toyota but the mathematical odds suggest that it has more than just a faint hope of success

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
The Asian underdog taking on the mighty GT factories at Le Mans Plus

The Asian underdog taking on the mighty GT factories at Le Mans

The rising HubAuto team steps up to GTE Pro at Le Mans this year for an ambitious bid to take on the three works giants – and has every reason to be optimistic of achieving its goal in becoming the first privateer on the podium since 2016

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car Plus

How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car

The JW Automotive Engineering team won twice at the Le Mans 24 Hours with ageing Fords and were considered heavy favourites to add more victories to its tally after partnering with Porsche. But despite being armed with the all-conquering 917, this formidable combination was never as successful in real life as on the big screen

Le Mans
Aug 14, 2021
Why Argentina’s current great isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio Plus

Why Argentina’s current great isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio

Having twice missed out on Formula 1 and reinvented himself as a touring car driver, Jose Maria Lopez has had a rocky ride to becoming a four-time world champion. One more would put him level with his nation's favourite son, but there's another prize he would value far more than the honour of matching Juan Manuel Fangio's tally

WEC
Aug 14, 2021