2018 6 Hours of Fuji – Race Report
Kamui Kobayashi took the chequered flag at the end of a dramatic 6 Hours of Fuji to take a home win for himself and Toyota, with his teammates Mike Conway and Jose-Maria Lopez joining Kobayashi on the top step of the podium in Japan. This was the first win for the no7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid crew in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the first for Kobayashi and Conway since the 2016 6 Hours of Fuji.
It was a Toyota 1-2 as the no8 Toyota of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima finished 11.4 seconds behind after 230 laps on a track that started wet but soon dried out. The no1 Rebellion Racing R13 completed the overall podium with Bruno Senna, Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani finishing the 6 Hours of Fuji as the first non hybrid car four laps behind the Toyota.
The no11 SMP Racing BR1-AER of Jenson Button, Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov fought back after a long delay caused by a wheel coming loose, with Button crossing the line in fourth place.
The no3 Rebellion Racing R13 was an early casualty after Gustavo Menezes spun off, crashing into the barriers in the wet conditions during the only safety car period of the race, which was declared when the no70 MR Racing Ferrari crashed on the main straight leaving debris on the track that needed to be cleared.
In the FIA World Endurance GTE Championship Porsche took the LMGTE Pro silverware with Kevin Estre taking the chequered flag in the no92 Porsche 911 RSR to stand on the top step of the podium with teammate Michael Christensen.
Porsche finished 12.1 seconds ahead of the no82 BMW Team MTEK M8 of Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Felix Da Costa, who took the German manufacturers first podium finish in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The no67 Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell finished 3rd 25 seconds behind the no92 Porsche to make it three different manufacturers on the LMGTE Pro podium.
It was a debut win for the all Malaysian crew of the no37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca-Gibson as Jazeman Jaafar, Weiron Tan and Nabil Jeffri took a well deserved and hard fought victory to become the first Malaysians to take a WEC win.
They finished 26 seconds ahead of their teammates Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi in the no38 Oreca, with the newly crowned 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 winners Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao completing the class podium in the no36 Signatech Alpine Matmut A470-Gibson.
The LMGTE Am podium also saw a debut WEC win, with the no56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti after a hard fought battle throughout the whole class. The no88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Mattteo Cairoli, Satoshi Hoshino and Giorgio Roda took second place after Cairoli passed the no90 TF Sport Aston Martin of Jonny Adam in final 10-minutes of the race.
However in post race scrutineering the no88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche was given a 76 second time penalty (Stewards Decision no25) because the team didn’t meet the minimum complete refuelling time. This dropped the no88 Porsche to 5th and promoted the no90 TF Sport to second and the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage to 3rd.
Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima continue to lead the LMP World Endurance Drivers Championship on 84 points to Conway, Lopez and Kobayashi on 71. Gustavo Menezes, Mathias Beche and Thomas Laurent are still third on 63 points, despite not scoring any points in Japan.
Victory for Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen means the Franco-Danish duo have extended their championship lead to 31 points ahead of Ford’s Olivier Pla and Stefan Mucke, who are on 65 points. Porsche hold a 52 point advantage in the manufacturers championship, with 152 to Ford’s 100 points after four races.
Only one point splits the top three cars in the LMP2 category, with Signatech Alpine Matmut on 87 points, with the two Jackie Chan DC Racing Orecas on 86 points, with the no38 car classified in second ahead of the no37 Oreca due to the win in Japan. The drivers are on identical points ahead of the next race in Shanghai next month.
The no77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche of Christian Ried, Julein Andlauer and Matt Campbell are still leading the LMGTE AM category on 80 points, despite an 8th place finish and a post race penalty of 31 seconds for not completing the minimum refuelling time (Stewards Decision no24) in Japan. The no56 Team Project One Porsche now moves into second place on 66 points, with the no90 TF Sport Aston Martin in third on 54 points.
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the 6 Hours of Shanghai on Sunday 18 November.