L&T Motorsport

Toyota Takes First Win in Two Years at Fuji

It was the No.8 Audi of Oliver Jarvis that was leading at the 1-hour mark at the WEC Six Hours of Fuji. Jarvis and the car got a clean start and looked set to control the race. However, the sister car hit trouble, the No.7 car had a hybrid failure after only 20 minutes of running.

After the first round of pit stops, Jarvis held a one second lead over the No.6 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway with Timo Bernhard in the No.1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, less than 10 seconds behind.

At the halfway mark it was still the No.8 Audi out in front, now in the hands of Lucas Di Grassi, the gap between the Audi and the Toyota, now in the hands of St├ęphane Sarrazin, has extended to five seconds and had been consistently at that margin for the last few hours.

Porsche remain close behind in third with the No.1 919 Hybrid. However, the championship leading No.2 is not having such luck, the car, in the hands of Marc Lieb, has been struggling with balance issues and is running fifth, more than a minute the leaders.

Lieb decided to pit for a front bodywork change in an attempt to sort out the issues.

Following the initial hybrid failure and a pit stop of almost an hour, the No.7 Audi rejoined the track solely running on its internal combustion engine with the front driveshaft hybrid systems removed. But, this was deemed illegal by the officials as it was outside the cars homologation and was forced to retire.

With two hours to go a three-way battle was forming between Audi, Porsche and Toyota, with the some of the best and closest racing so far.

The No.8 Audi was still out in front but now in the hands of Loic Duval, behind the German outfit there was a switch in position, with the No,1 Porsche five seconds behind in second. St├ęphane Sarrazin was running close in third in the Toyota.

Sarrazin was held up in traffic at the end of the fourth hour, which enabled Bernhard to pass after previously battling for the lead, but still close behind the Porsche.

It would be Toyota Gazoo Racing that took victory at Fuji and its first victory in nearly two years after a thrilling, down-to-the-wire end to the Six Hours of Fuji.

Kamui Kobayahi fought back from third, with a clever pit strategy leapfrogging ahead of both German outfits. In the last pitstop stage Toyota went for a fuel only stop, while Audi went for a tyre change with a nine second lead, Duval charged and mad up on more than 10 seconds on fresh Michelins but finished 1.439 seconds behind the Japanese Manufacturer. They settled for second, after a flawless run for the No.8 car.

The No.1 Porsche finished third, less than 18 seconds behind the leading pair, which meant all three manufacturers where on the podium.

In fourth was Toyotas sister No.5 car, ahead of the No.2 Porsche which never fully rectified its balance problem.

In last was the No.7 Audi after another tough day for Audi.

(image: sportscar365.com)

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