WEC Fuji carwitter 700x432 - WEC 2014 - Fuji - Toyota dominate for a win - WEC 2014 - Fuji - Toyota dominate for a win

Motorsport, WEC

WEC 2014 – Fuji – Toyota dominate for a win

18 Oct , 2014  

WEC Fuji - carwitter

Sebastian Buemi and Anthony Davidson took their third victory out of five World Endurance Championship rounds after a dominant performance at Fuji.

The Toyota pairing, without usual partner Nicolas Lapierre, led all but a handful of laps during the six-hour race in Japan to strengthen their title aspirations.

In a turnaround from last year’s deluge the full 236 laps were run in the dry but both Audi and Porsche were powerless to overturn the #7 and #8’s pace advantage.

WEC Fuji Aston Toyota - carwitter

Buemi had been briefly headed at the start of the race as a breathless opening lap saw all three manufacturers take the lead.

But by the time they were back across the line the #8 was already beginning to assert its dominance.

Mark Webber briefly lead after an early puncture forced the #20 into the pits and onto a different strategy but when he pitted the Toyotas swept back past.

WEC Fuji Audi - carwitter

After that the only time Davidson and Buemi’s names were not top of the scoring sheets was when the Toyotas swapped during their staggered stops.

By the time the chequered flag fell the pair had a two-lap lead over the chasing #20 as the Le Mans winning Audis languished behind, struggling with a top speed defict of up to 25kp/h.

Behind them the Audis attempted to leapfrog the Porsches by double stinting their tyres, only for the VAG stablemates to opt for the same strategy, ending any hopes of a podium.

WEC Fuji Lotus podium - carwitter

In the privateer ranks of LMP1-L it was a race of attrition, with the #13 Rebellion R1 limping across the line in the hands of Dominik Kraihamer to hand him and team mates Andrea Belicchi and Fabio Leimer  victory.

Their sister car of Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche lost 50 laps early on and finished a distant second after making the rest of the race an extended test.

Their only class rivals, the Kodewa run Lotus squad, had struggled for pace in their CLM P1/01 AER’s second race.

 

WEC Fuji Lotus fire - carwitter

But the day would come to a dramatic end for the squad of James Rossiter, Christophe Bouchut and Pierre Kaffe as the #9 burst into flames as Bouchut came onto pit lane.

The Frenchman escaped without serious injury but the burnt wreck of the Lotus remained in the pitlane until the end of the race.

WEC Fuji Aston G-Drive - carwitter

A gripping LMP2 battle was won by the Oak-racing run #26 G-Drive Ligier JS-P2 after they overcame a strong challenge from the #47 KCMG Oreca.

The Chinese crew took the initiative during the opening hour but would lose the lead after a clash with the Proton Porsche.

WEC Fuji KCMG - carwitter

Alexandre Imperatori retook the lead in the closing stages after Olivier Pla was forced to bring the car he shared with Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal into the pits with a puncture.

Pla retook the lead with just 20 minutes to go and held on for the victory, five seconds clear of the car Imperatori shared with Richard Bradley and Matt Howson.

WEC Fuji Aston Ferrari Aston - carwitter

In GT it was a 1-2 for AF Corse as Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander snatched their third GTE Pro victory of the season.

The pair had faced a near race-long battle with the #99 Aston Martin of Fernando Rees, Alex MacDowell and Daryl O’Young.

But the Aston faded as the race went on and the #51 crew were able to edge out James Calado and Davide Rigon in the sister #71 car by just two seconds.

WEC Fuji Aston Porsche Toyota - carwitter

Both factory Porsche’s found themselves off the pace, the #92 car losing time after making contact with the #97 Aston of Darren Turner, both cars having to head to the pits for repairs.

That left the #91 an easy run to fourth, distant from the podium, but facing no challenge from behind.

WEC Fuji Aston Audi - carwitter

In the Am ranks the leading Astons ran at the head of the GT field for much of the race, with the #95 of Nicki Thiim, David Heinemeier Hansson and Kristian Poulsen eventually overcoming the sister #98.

The battle for the final podium spot went down to the wire as the Prospeed Porsche of Emmanuel Collard, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Francois Perrodo held off a late challenge from a charging Klaus Bachler in the #88 911.

WEC Fuji Aston Aston - carwitter

WEC Fuji Lotus - carwitter

WEC Fuji start - carwitter

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