In solely its second outing within the WEC’s high Hypercar class with the Porsche 963, Proton proved aggressive because the automobile shared by Jani and team-mates Harry Tincknell and Gianmaria Bruni ran within the high 5 simply shy of the two-hour mark.
Nevertheless, the staff’s onerous work was undone when Tincknell got here in after his opening double stint at hand over to Bruni, as an issue occurred with the seat belts that compelled Proton to take the automobile within the storage for greater than 5 minutes.
Because of this, the #99 machine misplaced seven laps to the leaders, and at last ended up categorised ninth and eight laps behind the profitable #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID.
Put up-race, Jani lamented a misplaced likelihood to beat the Ferraris, as Tincknell had been hassling the #51 499P began by James Calado earlier than his doomed pitstop.
“Rather a lot was potential,” Jani instructed Autosport. “Once I bought within the automobile I used to be simply behind the [#6] Porsche and the 2 Toyotas, and I stayed behind them for the total stint.
“The belt got here out of the buckle – the place you tighten the belts, the half you pull to tighten it, it went by way of the buckle and got here out.
“We couldn’t tighten the belts anymore, so we needed to change the entire belt. It was a correct freak occasion. I’ve by no means seen something like that.
“It’s a disgrace, as a result of I’m positive we might have completed fourth. We have been faster than the Ferraris, we had them on tempo.
“However if you happen to take into account the automobile was new this weekend, it’s precisely these items that may occur if you don’t take a look at beforehand.
“We noticed that we’ve got the drivers, and we’ve got the tempo. Now we simply must kind out the main points which can be simply logically not sorted but with so little operating time.”
#99 Proton Competitors Porsche 963: Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell, Neel Jani
Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images
The Porsche 963 chassis that Proton raced at Fuji was totally different to the one with which it made its Hypercar debut at Monza in July, which was then shipped off to america to contest the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
As was the case with the staff’s first chassis previous to Monza, the one operating performed previous to Fuji with the second automobile was a 10-lap shakedown at Porsche’s Weissach HQ.
Tincknell added: “It sucks as a result of it was going so nicely. I had been proper behind Calado earlier than stopping. I had a extremely good second half to my stint and we have been there with the Ferraris.
“The tempo of the automobile was wonderful provided that we’ve completed no testing. We’re making steps on a regular basis and I feel our P5 in FP3 was real.
“I actually assume we’re punching above our weight, provided that Proton is not a longtime prototype staff and the place we’re within the programme.”
Proton’s fellow Porsche buyer squad Jota was additionally left lamenting the prospect to beat an off-colour Ferrari at Fuji.
That was after Antonio Felix da Costa picked up a drive-through penalty for making contact with one other automobile – paradoxically, Jota’s LMP2 entry – at Flip 10 within the second hour whereas operating fifth.
#51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi, #38 Hertz Staff JOTA Porsche 963 : Antonio Felix Da Costa, Will Stevens, Yifei Ye
Photograph by: JEP / Motorsport Images
The penalty resulted in da Costa, Will Stevens and Yifei Ye slipping to an eventual sixth behind each of the Ferrari 499Ps, 22 seconds down on the fifth-placed #51 automobile.
Jota boss Sam Hignett instructed Autosport: “With out the drive-through, we might have been preventing for fourth with the lead Ferrari.
“The ultimate result’s warped as nicely as a result of they ran the FCY for lower than a full lap and we did the entire of the straight beneath FCY.
“We misplaced 15 seconds there, so in actuality we have been about 10 seconds behind [the #51]. We may have been P4, however we have been lacking a bit to the #6 [factory] Porsche, so a bit of labor to do there.”