A home win for Toyota

More than 30,000 sports car fans came to the Fuji circuit in Japan to cheer on all the Japanese manufacturers taking part in the Six Hours of Fuji; the penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. They were rewarded not only by a close run race, but ultimately a win for the home team; Toyota.

Toyota at the 6 Hours of Fuji

Since making their debut at Le Mans earlier this year, Toyota has consistently challenged the dominance of Audi. After taking their first victory in Brazil, they showed in Japan that the result was not a fluke upset, by bringing home the TS030 Hybrid car for a second series win. Audi have already won the constructors title, but they know now that they won’t have things all their own way at Le Mans 2013.

The race between the two factory teams was close throughout. In the end the Toyota crossed the finished line just 11 seconds ahead of the No. 1 Audi, with the No. 2 Audi following a more distant third. Audi will point to some bad luck as race incidents wiped out any fuel economy advantage they thought they may have over the Toyota. They No.1 Audi collided with the No.97 Aston Marting Racing GTE car and had to come in for an unscheduled pit-stop for repairs. This delay was compounded when it was decided that the coming together could have been avoided by the Audi car, and so they suffered a further stop-go penalty. The No. 2 Audi could not take advantage of the situation following contact of their own. The experienced McNish and Kristensen experienced handling issues throughout the race, but damage sustained during a minor collision with an LMP2 car affected the aerodynamics. The decision was made not to lose time in the pits and stay out on track, but ultimately they limped home in third place. This keeps the drivers title still open with just 16.5 points separating the two Audi driver line-ups going in to the last race of the season.

Audi at the 6 Hours of Fuji

There was further reason for Japanese joy as the Rebellion Racing team (powered by Toyota) came home a lap ahead of its rivals, to not only claim the win in the privateer LMP1 race, but also secure the season title that they had always looked like winning. They were followed home buy the JRM car who just edged out the Strakka Racing team (both cars powered by Honda).

In the LMP2 class there was much celebrating to be had by the American Starworks Motorsport team as their second place finish at Fuji secured the LMP2 championship with a race to spare. The Honda powered team couldn’t beat the Nissan powered ADR Delta team that came home first in this race, but they stayed ahead of Oak Racing Morgan (Nissan powered!) who finished third for the second consecutive race.

Starworks at the 6 Hours of Fuji

In GTE Pro the 6 Hours of Fuji saw a return to form for the Felbermayr Proton Porsche team. Having secured victory back in May at Spa, they have been through a barren run. However, the Porsche was the consistently quickest through practice and qualifying and ultimately led the GTE class from start to finish. The overall championship in this class has already been won by the Ferrari of the AF Corse team, who finished second here after a close battle with the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage. The British team will think that things should have been different after they sustained damage in the incident with the Audi and still only finished third by 39 seconds after the full six hours of racing.

Felbermayr Proton at the 6 hours of Fuji

It was the Corvette of Larbre Competition that took the win in the GTE Am category. This time avoiding any subsequent penalties to rob them of the class win. The Krohn Racing Ferrari recorded its best result of the season by finishing second after a trouble free race with the Porsche of Felbermayr Proton finishing third, and giving the team further reason to enjoy their night.

The teams now move on to China for the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship with some trophies yet to be decided. The Japanese certainly put on a good show on and off the track at Fuji and they have set the standard that all circuits need to follow.

Written by: Richard Webb, Travel Destinations
Photography: David Lord, www.dailysportscar.com

If you would like to join Travel Destinations at Fuji next year or any of the other rounds of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship then register your interest with us now by emailing your contact details to info@traveldestinations.co.uk