Rain, fog, red flag – Porsche 919 Hybrids finish third and fourth at the FIA WEC Fuji

LMP1 race FIA World Endurance Championship, round 7 of 9, Fuji (JP)

The Porsche LMP Team had to be content with third and fourth place finishes at the seventh of nine rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The six-hour race on the Fuji International Speedway was hampered by persistent rain plus fog and staged in only 14 degree Celsius ambient temperature and 16 degree track temperature. Interruptions and neutralisations influenced the track action. Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) finished in third place. This year’s Le Mans winners Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) had started from pole position and came home fourth with Bamber impressively recording the fastest race lap (1:37.702 minutes on lap 19 of 115). The second red flag came after four hours and 31 minutes and the race was not restarted. As just over 75 per cent of the scheduled race duration had been completed, full points were awarded. In the manufacturers’ world championship standings, Porsche continues to lead with now 270 points, Toyota follows on 211.5 points after their one-two win on home soil. Bamber/Bernhard/Hartley top the drivers’ rankings with 172 points, their advantage over the best placed Toyota drivers having melted to 39 points. Jani/Lotterer/Tandy remain in fourth position now on 98 points. At the eighth and penultimate 2017 WEC race in Shanghai (CN) on November 5th, Porsche wants to convert its match point into a successful title defence.

FIA WEC Fuji Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche LMP Team Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy
FIA WEC Fuji Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche LMP Team Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy

How the race went for car number 1:

André Lotterer starts from P2. The safety car leads the pack in the rain until the end of lap 5. On lap 6 Lotterer drops back to fourth behind the two Toyotas. After a touch with the number 8 Toyota (Sébastien Buemi), a flap on the front right is missing. Half an hour into the race, fog is increasing, nevertheless Lotterer is catching up. End of lap 22, he overtakes the Toyota number 7 (Kamui Kobayashi) and now lies third. From lap 29 onwards, the safety-car is on track again. After 33 laps the team calls Lotterer to pit for full service. Neel Jani takes over, getting new front body work and fresh rain tyres. The race is red flagged after 39 laps with Jani in P4. The race is restarted at 12:50 hrs and he moves in to P3 when the sister Porsche pits. After 60 laps, with the safety car on track again, Nick Tandy takes over and continues with the same set of tyres. On lap 77, when the number 8 Toyota pits, Tandy takes the lead. He is under pressure from José María López who’s at the wheel of the number 7 Toyota. After 79 laps, the safety car is back on track. At the re-start on 87 laps, Tandy defends the lead while instantly an LMP2 accident requires the next safety car period. When the race is released for the next time after 94 laps, Tandy cannot defend against the two Toyotas and drops back to third. The order remains the same after 100 laps at the next pit stop when Jani takes over on fresh tyres. When chasing Mike Conway in the number 7 Toyota, the safety car comes out again on lap 111 due to worsening fog. After 114 laps the race is ultimately red flagged and not re-started.

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