Title fight at 300 kph in the foothills of Mount Fuji

LMP1 preview FIA World Endurance Championship in Fuji, Japan, round 7 of 9

Porsche faces the seventh of nine rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with special excitement: The race on the Fuji International Speedway at the foot of Japan’s highest mountain could bring an early title decision on October 15. Featuring a 1.5 kilometre long straight, the track rightly deserves its last name of “Speedway”. Depending on their aerodynamic configuration, Toyota’s and/or Porsche’s Le Mans prototypes may crack the 300 kph barrier. The tight and twisting remainder of the lap makes set-up work challenging and requires tricky compromises. The weather in the area of Fuji-san’s perfectly shaped, 3,776 metres high volcano can be a mild late summer climate or unpredictable autumn weather.

Should championship leaders Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) bring home their Porsche 919 Hybrid ahead of the best placed Toyota drivers, they will become the new drivers’ world champions. They have scored 159 championship points and are followed by Kazuki Nakajima (JP) and Sébastien Buemi (CH) having 108 points each.

FIA WEC 6h Fuji - Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber
FIA WEC 6h Fuji – Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber

The trio of the second Porsche 919 Hybrid, reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB), currently rank fourth with a score of 83 points. If Porsche manages this season’s fourth one-two victory, the company would win the manufacturers’ world championship for the third time in a row. However, it is not Porsche but Toyota who is the odds-on favourite on home soil. After six of nine WEC rounds, Porsche has 242 points, Toyota 168.5 points.

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, is not a fan of such “if” possibilities: “Arithmetic doesn’t help anything in a six-hour race. The long straight in Fuji will challenge our engines to the end and lapping traffic in the winding parts of the circuit is a permanent high risk. We are on track to defend both our championship titles again and should keep our head down. So far the Porsche 919 Hybrid has taken the chequered flag 59 times out of 64 possible cases. Getting over the distance always is key.”

The race in Japan will start on Sunday at 11 am local time and will be broadcast worldwide on the internet and television.

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