WEC: Porsche Extends Championship Lead in Japan
Solid races for both of the Porsche 919 Hybrids in the six-hour race at the Fuji Speedway in Japan have furthered Porsche’s manufacturers’ title lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship A third and a fifth place at the meeting ensured Porsche remains on top, now 59 points ahead of nearest rivals Audi.
Car Number 1
Qualifying was strong for the trio of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber with them putting the car second on the grid by just 0.025 seconds over the number 5 Toyota. For 21 laps Webber was able to stick behind the number 8 Audi. With the Toyota, driven by former F1 colleague Kimi Kobayashi clearly faster, however, the local driver was allowed to pass and get on with his own race.
Between lap 21 and 147 the order of Audi, Toyota and Porsche is maintained with the car number 1 drivers stopping a total of five times for tyres, refuelling and driver changes during this time. By this point the temperature of the track had dropped which was falling into the Porsche’s favour. On lap 156 Berhard was able to get past the Toyota of Sarrarzin and after a two lap battle secured the lead. The focus then turned to the leading Audi and with Hartley at the wheel on lap 183, the number 1 Porsche took the lead.
After a pit stop the number 1 car re-emerged in third place with a battle between Hartley and Kobayashi ensuing for second. During the final stop, the Toyota driver stops for fuel without changing tyres while Webber took over the hot seat after a tyre change, leaving him in third and unable to make up any further places.
Car Number 2
Current drivers’ championship leaders and 2016 Le Mans winners Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb retained their top spot after a race that could’ve extended it under better circumstances. Qualifying sixth, the trio were struggling with the car’s balance all weekend despite consistent conditions throughout the meeting.
On the opening lap Dumas gained a place from sixth to fifth but was quickly reigned back in and re-passed by the number 7 Audi R18. Difficulties for the Audi on lap 15 saw him retake fifth, but by the time Neel Jani was preparing to take to the wheel on lap 36, Dumas was already complaining of a loose back end. The issue seemed to be solved as Jani took the car out on fresh rubber for his double stint with him able to close the gap to the Audi. However, the problems from car 2 were just beginning as despite fresh tyres on lap 73, the balance problems returned thanks to debris pick-up that disrupted aerodynamics by sticking to the front bodywork.
A change of nosecone at 110 laps with Lieb at the wheel helped solve the issues. By the time Jani took over for the final stint, fifth was the best that the team could manage.
The next round of the WEC, 6 Hours of Shanghai, takes place on 6th November 2016 in China.
Race result 6 Hours Circuit of Fuji (JPN):
|1.||Sarrazin/Conway/Koayashi||Toyota TS050||244 laps|
|2.||Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis||Audi R18||244 laps|
|3.||Bernhard/Hartley/Webber||Porsche 919 Hybrid||244 laps|
|5.||Dumas/Jani/Lieb||Porsche 919 Hybrid||243 laps|
Drivers’ World Championship after seven out of nine rounds:
|3.||Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis||Audi R18||111.5 points|
Constructors’ World Championship: