Toyota Gazoo Racing took a predictable win at Fuji Speedway, Japan, on Sunday. Top prize went to the N°7 TS050 Hybrid/Michelin of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez, while Buemi/Nakajima/Alonso (N°8) made it a one-two finish for the Japanese squad on home soil. Porsche/Michelin came first in both LM GTE classes.
Despite starting last in the LMP1 order, the crew of the N°7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid successfully picked off its rivals one by one to secure its first victory of the 2018/2019 FIA WEC campaign. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose-Maria Lopez posted consistently quick times (fastest race lap: Lopez/1m25.603s) to earn Toyota Gazoo Racing’s sixth win at the Fuji International Speedway.
Wet conditions saw Japan’s WEC encounter get underway behind the safety car, with the majority of Michelin’s partners running on rain tyres. Ten or so laps into the race, however, there was a rush for the pits to fit intermediate rubber (Michelin’s ‘Hybrid’ slick in the case of the LM P1 prototypes) before everyone switched to slicks when the conditions dried. The mixed weather meant Michelin’s entire range of endurance racing tyres was used.
The battle for third place essentially opposed the Rebellion and SMP Michelin-equipped non-hybrid prototypes. After problems for both teams (the N°3 Rebellion crashed out and the N°11 SMP prototype was delayed by an alternator belt problem), the final podium position ended up in the hands of Jani/Lotterer/Senna in the N°1 Rebellion/Michelin (+4 laps).
In LM GTE Pro, there was another epic battle opposing every one of the five makes involved in the class. The pole-winning N°95 Aston Martin/Michelin led early on in the wet but, as the racing line dried, first place became the property of the N°82 BMW/Michelin, then the N°71 Ferrari/Michelin and, ultimately, the N°92 Porsche/Michelin. The 911 RSR of Kevin Estre/Michael Christensen crossed the line 12 seconds clear of the N°82 BMW (Blomqvist/Da Costa) which collected the German make’s best result to date. The N°67 Ford/Michelin and N°51 Ferrari/Michelin were third and fourth.
Porsche/Michelin secured the LM GTE Am laurels, too, thanks to the N°56 Team Project 1 car of Bergmeister/Lindsey/Perfetti. The N°88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche came second, ahead of the N°90 and N°98 Michelin-equipped Aston Martin Vantages.
Jackie Chan DC Racing took first and second places in LMP2 with its N°37 and N°38 prototypes.
The last round of the year will take teams to Shanghai on November 18, although the Chinese race will not mark the end of the 2018/2019 ‘Super Season’, of course!