6 Hours of Fuji: Toyota doubled in front of its fans; Ferrari and Aston Martin success in GT

Sunday September 11, 2022 by Philippe Brasseur

The penultimate stage of the 2022 season of the World Endurance Championship (WC), the 6 Hours of Fuji took place for the first time in three years this Sunday. A clear race, without the slightest neutralization and under a radiant sun, which never seemed able to escape the local favourites, the Toyota Gazoo Racing team with its two GR 010 Hybrid prototypes.

After the start of the race was dominated by the Toyota No.7 of Kamui Kobayashi, José-María López and Mike Conway, it was the sister car, the No.8 of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa which took the initiative to never be worried again. The trio, who had already won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June, finished more than a minute ahead of the No.7.

Relegated to 2 laps and having never represented a threat for the Toyotas due to an unfavorable Balance of Performance (BoP) during this Japanese meeting, the Alpine A480 of André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxivière completes the podium.

These 6 Hours of Fuji also marked the second event for Peugeot 9X8s. After a cascade of mechanical problems at Monza in July, the two cars this time finished the event in fourth and fifth places in the Hypercar category. At the start of the race, the two French prototypes managed not to concede a lap to the Toyota and the Alpine and, in the end, the No.93 of Jean-Éric Vergne, Paul di Resta and James Rossiter finished 4th overall, 7 laps behind the winners and just ahead of the winners of the LMP2 class, the Team WRT Oreca of Dries Vanthoor, Sean Gelael and Robin Frijns.

In the GTE Pro class, the battle between the official Porsche 911 RSRs and the two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTEs only lasted the first hour. Subsequently, the Ferraris took their distance in the lead, ending with a double for the less easy. It was the No.51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado which crossed the finish line first, 2 tenths of a second ahead of the No.52 of Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco. The Porsche of Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre finished 3rd, ahead of Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni, never at the controls with the second Porsche. The only Corvette entered, the C8.R of Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner, played no more role in this race and finished 5th in its class, 22nd overall.

Spectacular race, on the other hand, in the GTE Am class. After Sarah Bovy dominated the first hour, on this Fuji circuit that she was discovering, with the Ferrari 488 No.83 of the Iron Lynx team, the Aston Martin Vantages took over the front rows. The victory goes to the No.33 of Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sorensen. Unhappy at Monza when Chaves had rolled over, this TF Sport crew won with a 1 lap lead over the Ferrari of Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy. The feat of the female crew is worthy of mention against the Aston Martins which are particularly favored by the BoP.

It is also another Aston Martin, that of Hoshino/Fujii/Fagg (D’Station Racing) which completes the podium in this category. The only registered Canadian, Paul Dalla Lana is ranked 5th, with his Vantage (Team AMR Northwest) shared with David Pittard and Nicki Thiim.

For full results, click here. The final race of the 2022 WEC season will take place at the 8 Hours of Bahrain on November 12.

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