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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Toyota sees off Porsche problem for victory

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The #7 Toyota GR010 HYBRID of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez took the chequered flag 39 seconds away from the sister #8 automobile shared by Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa and Sebastien Buemi, because the Japanese producer celebrated its ninth WEC win at Fuji in 10 makes an attempt.

Porsche’s lead automobile, the #6 machine of Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer, led for slightly below 4 hours and finally took the ultimate spot on the rostrum, 48s behind the profitable #7 Toyota.

Vanthoor seized the lead at the beginning of the race as he dived up the within of the 2 Toyotas that locked out the entrance row into Flip 1 with Miguel Molina’s #50 Ferrari making an equally spectacular leap from seventh to seize second.

The polesitting #7 Toyota then pushed by Conway dropped to 3rd, whereas the #8 Toyota of Buemi slipped even additional again to sixth behind the second Ferrari of James Calado and the only real Cadillac of Alex Lynn.

The security automobile was deployed virtually instantly afterwards, prompted by Luis Perez Companc stopping on observe within the #83 Richard Mille Ferrari 488 GTE following a spin at Flip 1.

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When the race resumed at the beginning of lap 4, Vanthoor led the best way for Porsche, whereas Conway tried to seize second from Molina, solely to run vast and permit the opposite Ferrari of Calado to get via.

Nonetheless, Toyota duo Conway and Buemi had been capable of come again and repass the Ferraris earlier than the top of the opening stint, assuming second and third positions behind the main Porsche.

Vanthoor was capable of step by step lengthen his result in 16s within the second hour and the hole had solely come right down to 11s by the point Estre took over the #6 automobile within the third hour.

Lopez was capable of step by step chip away at Estre’s lead and reached the tail of the Porsche at the start of the fourth hour, however the Porsche driver appeared to have issues below management.

That was till the 2 Toyotas of Lopez and Hirakawa swapped positions shortly after a lock-up for the Argentine driver.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, André Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Now Estre’s main challenger for the lead, Hirakawa wasted little time after grabbing second and made a superb cross on Estre going into the Dunlop chicane simply shy of the four-hour mark.

The #7 Toyota additionally usurped the Porsche through the subsequent pitstop cycle, with Hartley now main from Kobayashi.

However what was a 5s hole between the pair rapidly disappeared and Kobayashi made what turned out to be the race-winning transfer within the fifth hour, breezing previous the Kiwi at Flip 1 to take the lead of the race.

Kobayashi then went on to construct a large lead out entrance, finally taking the win comfortably to shut the hole between the 2 Toyota crews within the drivers’ standings to fifteen factors heading into the Bahrain season finale.

Taking up from Estre for the ultimate a part of the race, Lotterer had no reply to the Toyotas up entrance, however introduced house the #6 automobile to safe Porsche’s second podium of the season after Portimao.

Ferrari had a lacklustre outing at Fuji, with its two vehicles ending greater than a lap down in fourth and fifth respectively.

Antonio Fuoco, Molina and Nicklas Nielsen led the crew’s cost within the #50 Ferrari 499P, ending 21s away from the #51 entry shared by Alessandro Pier Guidi, Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi.

The #38 Jota Porsche crew of Antonio Felix da Costa, Will Stevens and Yifei Ye managed to complete sixth regardless of an early collision for da Costa with the crew’s LMP2 automobile for which it was hit with a drive-through penalty.

Peugeot by no means featured close to the entrance of the pack after a troublesome qualifying session on Saturday, with Gustavo Menezes, Loic Duval and substitute driver Stoffel Vandoorne solely managing seventh in the very best of the 2 Peugeot 9X8s.

The second Peugeot of Jean-Eric Vergne, Mikkel Jensen and Paul di Resta was categorized eighth after a prolonged cease within the closing phases, whereas the Proton crew completed ninth with a model new Porsche 963 chassis after shedding time in a number of pitstops as a result of a seatbelt situation.

Cadillac endured a torrid race at Fuji, requiring intensive restore work after the front-left wheel got here free through the fourth hour. It had already dropped out of rivalry earlier than Richard Westbrook picked up a drive-through penalty for exceeding observe limits.

Westbrook, Alex Lynn and Earl Bamber finally completed tenth amongst 12 Hypercar entrants, solely beating the Vanwall of Esteban Guerrieri, Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Tristan Vautier and the #5 Porsche of Frederic Makowiecki, Dane Cameron and Michael Christensen.

The #5 Porsche was concerned in a first-lap tangle as Christensen was hit by Calado’s Ferrari on the first nook, giving the Danish driver a right-rear puncture that compelled him to pit on the finish of the opening lap.

Additional time was misplaced with a drive-through penalty for finishing a full pitstop below the protection automobile and never pitting when the race went again to inexperienced, and two later journeys to the storage for technical issues.

WRT celebrates victory in LMP2

#41 Team WRT Oreca 07 - Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

#41 Workforce WRT Oreca 07 – Gibson: Rui Andrade, Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz

Picture by: Andy Chan

WRT trio Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Rui Andrade inched nearer to profitable the 2023 LMP2 title with their second class win of the season at Fuji.

Though United Autosports held the highest spots for a lot of the race, it was WRT that finally secured the spoils, with Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Sean Gelael ending third within the sister #31 ORECA.

The #41 WRT entry ran sixth at the start after Andrade was hit by the #23 United Autosports ORECA of Joshua Pierson, an incident for which Pierson was slapped with a 10s penalty.

However the points-leading WRT crew was capable of make up for the time loss, with Deletraz taking the lead within the fourth hour after passing the #22 United Autosports ORECA of Phil Hanson.

Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Frederick Lubin finally took second, simply forward of the #31 WRT crew, whereas the second United automobile of Pierson, Ben Hanley and Oliver Jarvis was fourth.

Ferrari takes GTE Am honours

#54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci, Davide Rigon

#54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci, Davide Rigon

Picture by: Andy Chan

In GTE Am, Davide Rigon, Francesco Castellaci and Thomas Flohr took the category win within the #54 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE.

That was regardless of Flohr going vast within the second hour after being hit by the Corvette of Ben Keating, who was given a 30s cease/go penalty by the stewards for inflicting the contact.

Second place went to the #57 Kessel Racing Ferrari following a charging late stint by newcomer Ritomo Miyata, who was known as in on the final minute to exchange Daniel Serra.

Miyata, Takeshi Kimura and Scott Huffaker completed simply three seconds away from the Corvette of Keating, Nicky Catsburg and Nicolas Varrone.

Race outcome:

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