The #6 Toyota Gazoo Racing trio of Kamui Kobayashi, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway won a toughly fought 6 Hours of Fuji where the winning outcome was within reach of Audi, Porsche and Toyota throughout the duration of the contest. (Provisional race results Here)
The fight for victory ultimately came down to a last hour battle between all three LMP1 manufacturers. It was a stressful ending, but Kamui Kobayashi’s Toyota TS 050 Hybrid held off the #8 Audi Sport Team Joest driven by Loic Duval. Reigning Porsche champions, Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley completed the podium in third position.
“It was a six-hour sprint race. We could do no more; everyone in the team performed to the maximum today against such close competition. It was a clean fight, decided by speed on track and in the pits, as well as strategy,” said Toshio Sato, Toyota Gazoo Racing Team President. “All credit to Audi and Porsche for their part in this great show.” It was Toyota’s first victory in 2016.
The ambiance for an anxious, closely-fought race was set at the start. Kamui and Kazuki, having slipped to fourth and sixth respectively at turn one, fought back. At the first pit stops the #6 was running second while the #5 was fourth.
The #6 Toyota crossed the line just 1.439 seconds ahead of the #8 Audi, bringing Toyota’s 11th WEC win. This was Toyota’s fourth victory in five years at Fuji. More importantly its first since Bahrain in November 2014. This result elevates the #6 Toyota crew to second in the Drivers’ World Championship, 23 points off the lead.
“We battled up until the end. When Toyota, for the last stop, were able to benefit from the strategic advantage of pitting late, and chose not to change tires, they took the lead for the first time. Loïc Duval did everything to recover the top spot, almost making up a 12-second deficit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough but, once again, we saw fascinating endurance racing,” said the head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
Rebellion Racing took the 2016 LMP1 Privateers title as Dominik Kraihamer, Matteo Tuscher and Alexandre Imperatori took their fifth category win of the season.
In the LMP2 class, G-Drive took maximum points for the first time this season after shaking off their poor luck after winning positions earlier this year. Alex Brundle, Will Stevens and Roman Rusinov drove faultless stints to lead home the RGR Sport Ligier-Nissan.
Ford took a justified 1-2 in the LMGTE Pro class, racing from lights to flag at the front of the category. Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx took the victory after the sister car lost time through a spin suffered by Olivier Pla in the fifth hour.
“I knew I was really having to fight for a race win and it is probably one of the hardest races I have had to race in to get a victory,” said Harry Tincknell of Ganassi. “I knew it was vital to get in to the lead and that is what I did and I managed to hand it over to Andy Priaulx. I had a little miscommunication with a LMGTE Am car and we had a bit of light contact but luckily we both continued.
Aston Martin Racing took a straightforward win in the LMGTE Am class as Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy dominated the race.
Nonetheless, Ferrari (236 points) continues to lead GTE classes with a razor’s edge lead over Aston Martin (233). Ford follows a distant third (177.5). Porsche (103) is virtually out of the running.
Headlines – 6 Hours of Fuji
- #6 Toyota Gazoo Racing takes famous victory after sensational 6 Hours of Fuji in front of 53,200 home fans
- Kamui Kobayashi, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway seal home win and first ever for the Toyota TS 050 Hybrid LMP1 car
- Race comes down to last hour as Toyota opted to not take new Michelin rubber and gains track position
- Loic Duval takes new rubber at final stop, but No.8 Audi unable to catch Kobayashi’s Toyota despite best efforts
- Mark Webber takes #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid to chequered flag and third position after being in contention throughout the race for victory
- Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi finish fourth after relatively quiet race
- Porsche 919 Hybrid struggles for pace and sees title lead diminished
- Rebellion Racing claim LMP1 Privateer class victory and take 2016 title
- Sensational finish to LMP2 race sees G-Drive Racing take first 2016 victory after Will Stevens makes daring move on Bruno Senna’s RGR Sport Ligier with 30 minutes remaining. The British driver has to relinquish position after having being adjudged to have used pit exit to overtake Senna. He then re-takes lead with another sensational move with just five minutes remaining
- Signatech Alpine finish third place to keep healthy points advantage in title quest
- #67 Ford GT of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx take first ever WEC win for Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT as #66 car of Pla and Mucke make it a 1-2
- AF Corse Ferrari take third and fourth with #51 car of Bruni/Calado heading home Bird/Rigon car
- #98 Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy take dominant LMGTE Am class victory after leading entire race.
- Second is #83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas as they extend title advantage
- Closest ever winning margin in a WEC event
- First completely ‘green’ WEC race since Spa 2015
- Closest ever gap between three manufacturers finishing 1-2-3
- Most laps ever completed at Fuji Speedway in a WEC race and only five laps from all-time record at Interlagos 2014
- First win for Toyota TS 050 Hybrid
- First WEC wins for Kamui Kobayashi and Andy Priaulx
- #6 Toyotadrivers now in second in Drivers’ standings
- Race results Here
- All points standings Here
The next round of the FIA WEC will be held on 6 November in Shanghai.