Seventh heaven for Toyota/Michelin at Fuji
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Seventh heaven for Toyota/Michelin at Fuji


Seven is a lucky number in Japan. It is also the number of times Toyota/Michelin has won its home round – the 6 Hours of Fuji – since the FIA World Endurance Championship’s creation in 2012. This year’s victory went to the N°8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Buemi/Nakajima/Hartley, chased by the N°7 sister car of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez. Michelin came first in all four classes thanks to the N°29 Oreca07-Gibson in LMP2, and the N°95 and N°90 Aston Martins in LMGTE Pro and Am.

Despite carrying ballast due to the team’s success at Silverstone, Toyota’s two TS050 Hybrids dominated the 2019/2020 FIA WEC’s second clash, posting the fastest lap times in free practice, qualifying and the 232-lap race itself on their way to collecting the team’s fourth one-two result on home soil.

Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley overcame a drive-through penalty for a pit-stop infraction to finish 33.955s clear of the N°7 prototype which missed a turn at the start. The N°1 Rebellion R13/Michelin (Senna/Menezes/Nato) was third after splitting the two Japanese machines early on.

A shower in the first half of the race prompted some teams to fit rain tyres, but the conditions stayed more or less dry this year as the thermometer climbed to around 25°C.

Michelin’s partners had a choice between soft and medium slicks which allowed them to double stint. Indeed, it was thanks to its decision not to change tyres during its last stop that Team Nederlands (N°29 Oreca07-Gibson, Van Eerd/Van Der Garde/De Vries) managed to clinch its maiden LMP2 win after a fierce scrap with three opponents competing on rival tyres. With three laps remaining, Nick de Vries even posted the class’s fastest race lap to showcase the long-lasting performance credentials of his Michelins.

The LM GTE Pro winner was Aston Martin Racing/Michelin’s N°95 Vantage AMR (Sorensen/Thiim). Marco Sorensen passed Gimmi Bruni (N°91 Porsche/Michelin) during the first hour and then held firm, aided by a smart tyre strategy during the short spell of rain. The N°92 Porsche/Michelin (Estre/Christensen) and N°97 Aston Martin/Michelin (Lynn/Martin) were second and third.

Aston Martin and Michelin took the LM GTE Am spoils, as well, thanks to TF Sport’s N°90 Vantage (Yoluc/Eastwood/Adam) which led from start to finish. The N°88 Porsche and N°98 Aston Martin tangled at lights-out, leaving the N°83 Ferrari/Michelin and N°57 Porsche/Michelin to pick up podium placings.

The 2019/2010 FIA WEC will remain in Asia for round three – China’s 4 Hours of Shanghai – on November 10.

2019 6 Hours of Fuji – final positions:

1. Buemi/Nakajima/Hartley (Toyota TS050 Hybrid N°8), 232 laps

2. Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez (Toyota TS050 Hybrid N°7), +33.955s

3. Senna/Menezes/Nato (Rebellion R13-Gibson N°1), +2 laps

4. Van Eerd/Van der Garde/De Vries (Oreca07-Gibson N°29), +10 laps (1st, LMP2)

5. Gonzalez/Da Costa/Davidson (Oreca07-Gibson N°38), +10 laps

6. Tung/Aubry/Stevens (Oreca07-Gibson N°37), +11 laps

7. Hanson/Albuquerque/Jarvis (Oreca07-Gibson N°22), +12 laps

8. Patterson/Yamashita/Fjordbach (Oreca07-Gibson N°33), +13 laps

9. Lapierre/Borga/Coigny (Oreca07-Gibson N°42), +10 laps

10. Robertson/Simpson/Smith (Ginetta G60-AER N°6) +14 laps