Toyota unassailable in Fuji

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The fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship 2018/2019 proved to be a resounding success for Toyota. At its home race, the team put in a flawless performance in changeable weather conditions to finish one-two. There was another one-two in the LMP2 class, with Jackie Chan DC Racing dominating proceedings. Victory in GTE Pro and GTE Am somewhat surprisingly went to Porsche after an up-and-down race.

Toyota took a lights-to-flag victory at their home race in Fuji
Toyota secured a one-two finish in its home race

Weather conditions once again dominated the Six Hours of Fuji in 2018. Intermittent rain throughout the race meant that Toyota had to work hard for its fourth victory of the season. Victory ultimately went to the #7 TS050 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, which had been quickest in qualifying but were relegated to the back of the grid due to a pit lane infraction.

The privateer teams had managed to keep pace with the factory Toyotas in the strategic battle during the race’s opening stages. However, the poor weather put paid to the chances of the #3 Rebellion Racing car, with US driver Gustavo Menezes losing traction and careering into the barriers at turn one during a full-course yellow period.

Lady Luck wasn’t smiling on SMP Racing either, with a loose wheel on the #17 car ruining its chances of a podium finish. The Sarrazin/Orudzhev/Isaakyan car was then forced into early retirement with technical issues. Third place ultimately went to the #1 Rebellion Racing car of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Bruno Senna.

Jackie Chan DC Racing was in just as dominating form in the LMP2 class. An error-free race for both cars gave the Chinese team an impressive one-two. Third place went to the Signatech Alpine Matmut team.

Porsche one-two in GTE Pro

The Porsche 911 RSR was the car to beat at the Six Hours of Fuji, with the German marque securing victory in both GTE Pro and GTE Am. The GTE Pro race proved to be closely fought throughout, with Aston Martin starting from pole but Ferrari seemingly having the pace during the race. The AF Corse team looked to be on course for class victory, but a collision with the DragonSpeed LMP2 car put paid to their chances.

In the closing stages, BMW, Ford and Porsche all went all-out for the race win. Three cars were in with a shout of the win as the race entered the business end, but it was the #92 Porsche who ultimately prevailed, giving championship-leaders Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen their second victory of the year. Second place went to the hard-charging #82 BMW, which scored the Bavarian manufacturer’s maiden FIA WEC podium in the process. The #67 Ford took third place to keep its championship hopes alive.

Team Project 1 recorded its maiden WEC victory in Fuji
Team Project 1 secured its first ever FIA WEC victory in Fuji

Porsche customer team Team Project 1 had plenty of reason to celebrate in GTE Am. The German team were in fine form in Japan, with Jörg Bergmeister, Egidio Perfetti and Patrick Lindsey putting together an excellent team performance to eclipse the Aston Martin and fellow Porsche runners in class.

The #56 car was closely followed over the line by the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche and the TF Sport Aston Martin. Japanese team MR Racing were forced into premature retirement at their home race following a collision.