2015 FIA WEC: Six Hours of Fuji race report
Porsche Team continued on their winning way in the FIA World Endurance Championship, taking victory in the Six Hours of Fuji to cement their place atop the 2015 manufacturers’ standings.
In difficult, changeable conditions at Fuji Speedway (60 miles southwest of Tokyo), it was the no. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb that dominated for much of the event.
The sister no. 17 car of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard had started from pole position and led the opening 40 minutes after the race was started behind the safety car due to the wet conditions.
When the racing eventually got underway in earnest, Webber ran wide at turn three, dropping to fourth behind the two Audi R18 e-tron quattros and one of the Toyotas as Dumas struggled with an errant pitlane speed limiter.
A few laps latter and it was Webber’s turn to struggle, this time with the hybrid system as Dumas moved into fourth before taking third from the no. 1 Toyota on lap 25.
After passing the no. 8 Audi for second place 11 laps later, the Dumas is the last of the LMP1 runners to pit for fuel, allowing him to close on the front-running Audi at the first round of stops.
By lap 71, Dumas has taken the lead away from the R18 e-tron quattro shared by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer before a safety car is called just ahead of the no. 18 919’s first driver change stop.
This allows Lieb to take over the wheel under caution, giving Porsche’s erstwhile unluckiest crew a strong advantage over the rest of the field as the frontrunners switched from full wet tyres to Michelin’s intermediate slick option.
Meanwhile, after a tight battle in the wet with the no. 1 Toyota, Webber had worked his way into third before handing over to Hartley who was then engaged in a to-and-fro tussle with the no. 7 Audi for second place.
Having secured second, Hartley handed over to Bernhard a lap after Jani assumed control of the lead Porsche 919, with the Weissach duo running nearly a minute apart on the run to the flag.
However, on the final lap, Porsche’s team orders saw the no. 17 crew assume the lead as Jani slowed, giving the team with the better chance of glory in the drivers’ championship victory.
The result ensured that Webber, Hartley and Bernhard leapfrogged Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer at the top of the table, while Porsche’s lead in the manufacturers’ standings extended to 53 points over Audi.
In GTE-Pro, the two factory Porsche 911 RSRs couldn’t live with the lead Ferrari 458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander once the track dried out in the final two hours.
Until then, Patrick Pilet and Michael Christensen headed the field in the no. 92 and no. 91 RSRs respectively. Making use of the Porsche 911’s excellent wet weather traction.
As their challenge to the Ferraris faded, Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki held on to take second while Christensen and championship leader, Richard Lietz had to settle for fourth, maintaining Porsche’s place atop both the drivers’ and teams’ standings.
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