This past weekend in Japan, Porsche found the podium in LMP1, but fell short in the GTE-Pro class. In LMP1, Porsche came third and fifth with its two 919 Hybrids in the six-hour race at the Fuji International Speedway. These results allow Porsche to defend its lead in both, the manufacturers’ and drivers’ classifications, at the seventh out of nine rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). After completing 244 laps all three manufacturers in the LMP1 race were withing 18 seconds of each other. Check out Porsche's official race report and results after the gallery.
Porsche's Official LMP1 Race Report
For quite a while Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) had chances to win the race; in the end they finished third. The reigning world champions had started from second place on the grid. This year’s Le Mans winners and current championship leaders, Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE), had started from sixth position. They were unhappy with the car’s balance for some of the time and came fifth. Because their closest rivals in the drivers’ championship took more points than them, their advantage has shrunk to 23 points.
How the race went for car number 1
For a long time start-driver Mark Webber holds P2 behind the number 8 Audi. In lap 21 he lets his former Formula One colleague Kamui Kobayashi pass in his faster number 6 Toyota. The order at the top is: number 8 Audi ahead of the number 6 Toyota and the number 1 Porsche. This doesn’t change for most of the race, including five stops for refueling and driver and tyre changes. After 36 laps Webber hands over to Timo Bernhard, after 73 laps Brendon Hartley jumps in. After 110 laps once again Webber gets behind the wheel, followed by Bernhard at the end of lap 147. As clouds gather in the sky the track temperature drops and the number 1 Porsche gets closer to the second placed Toyota. On lap 156 Bernhard manages to overtake Stéphane Sarrarzin in his Toyota who counter-attacks immediately. One lap later Bernhard snatches P2 and afterwards closes the gap to the leading Audi. After 183 laps Hartley takes over the number 1 car. After his stop he rejoins the race in P3 behind the number 6 car. A great duel evolves between the Kiwi and Kobayashi who change positions several times. Driving in second position, the Japanese driver refuels for the last time without changing tires, while Hartley does change tires after 220 laps and hands over to Webber. The Australian struggles from balance problems towards the end and can no longer fight for the race win. He brings the car home in third position.
Mark Webber had this to say about the race, “The start and first lap of the race was pretty clean racing for everyone. Then we settled into the grove. The Audi and Toyota were faster than us in the beginning but we stayed in the game and improved when the track temperatures came down a bit. On my second stint I got some time back on the Toyota and to the Audi who apparently had a problem at the pit stop. The race was coming to us a little bit to us. For a very long time the three cars at the front could equally have won the race. Congratulations to Audi.”
How the race went for car number 2
Romain Dumas improves temporarily from sixth to fifth at the start but is back to P6 after lap one. When the number 7 Audi gets in trouble on lap 15, the Frenchman is prted to fifth. He reports a loose rear end of the car. After 36 laps Neel Jani takes over for a double stint. Initially he can close the gap but after the next tyre change after 73 laps he faces balance problems: tire pick up that sticks inside the front bodywork disturbs the aerodynamics. Therefore, the front bodywork gets changed at the next stop after 110 laps. Marc Lieb continues driving, at the end of lap 147 it is Dumas again. After 183 laps Jani takes over for the final stints. The Swiss driver stops for fuel after 220 laps. Improving a position isn’t within reach anymore, he brings home the car in fifth.
Romain Dumas commented on the race as follows, “At the start I didn’t take any risks and then during my first stint I had big problems with the rear being very difficult to control. After we had changed the front bodywork the car’s balance improved a lot. On my second stint I had significantly more grip. Of course, I’m not happy with today’s result.”
FIA World Endurance Manufacturers' Championship Standings
- Porsche 263 Points
- Audi 204 Points
- Totyota 174 Points
FIA World Endurance Drivers' Championship Standings
- Marc Lieb, Neil Jani, Romain Dumas 140 Points
- K. Kobayashi, M. Conway, S. Sarraxin, 117 Points
- L. Duval, L. Di Grassi, O. Jarvis, 111.5 Points
- B. Hartley, M. Webber, T. Bernhard, 93.5 Points
- A. Lotterer, M. Fässler, 78 Points
Porsche's Official GT Race Report
Porsche customer teams are continuing on their successful path in the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC. After Abu Dhabi Proton Racing’s GTE-Am class win in Mexico City, KCMG went on to clinch second in Austin and secured another podium spot on Sunday in Fuji, Japan: Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany), Christian Ried (Germany) and Joel Camathias (Switzerland) crossed the finish line in third in the 470 hp Porsche 911 fielded by the team from Hong Kong. Rounding off the fine performance from Porsche customer squads on the 4.563-kilometre racetrack at the foot of Mount Fuji, Gulf Racing claimed fourth place with Abu Dhabi Proton Racing finishing on fifth.
Wolf Henzler (Porsche 911 RSR #78): “We can be pleased with third place. Our team once again fought a great fight and thanks to fast pit stops the squad kept us in the race for a podium spot. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go for victory at the end, we were simply a little too far off the leader. I hope that we can be back up there at the next race in Shanghai. I’m very confident about this.”
In the fiercely contested GTE-Pro class, the Porsche works drivers Richard Lietz (Austria) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) were unable to join in the fight for the top places. The pair ultimately brought home seventh place in the 911 RSR run by Dempsey Proton Racing.
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “Unfortunately, the result speaks for itself. Now we have to stay motivated for the last races in Shanghai and Bahrain. Maybe we’ll experience something like a small sense of achievement there.”
Race result GTE-Pro class
1. Priaulx/Tincknell (USA/GB/GB), Ford GT, 212 laps
2. Mücke/Pla (D/F), Ford GT, 212
3. Bruni/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, 212
4. Rigon/Bird (I/GB), Ferrari 488 GTE, 212
5. Sörensen/Thiim (DK/DK), Aston Martin, 211
6. Stanaway/Turner (NZ/GB), Aston Martin, 211
7. Christensen/Lietz (D/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 210
1. Lamy/Dalla Lana/Lauda (P/CAN/A), Aston Martin, 208 laps
2. Collard/Perrodo/Aguas (F/F/P), Ferrari F458 Italia, 207
3. Ried/Henzler/Camathias (D/D/CH), Porsche 911 RSR, 206
4. Wainwright/Carroll/Barker (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 205
5. Al Qubaisi/Long/Heinemeier Hansson (UAE/F/DK), Porsche 911 RSR, 200
6. Yamagishi/Ragues/Taylor (J/F/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 172
Round eight of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC will be contested in Shanghai/China on 6 November.