The Alley

Toyota wins at home

Although qualifying made it seem like everything was coming up Porsche, it was the Toyota Gazoo Racing Team that took the victory at the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Fuji.

The No. 8 car led the Toyota 1-2 in front of their home crowd in Japan with Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson taking the win in the rain-shortened race, despite Davidson not getting to turn a lap due to the shortened event.

Between rain, fog and on-track incidents, there were seven safety car periods and two red flags before the race was finally called with just 14 minutes remaining after a red flag period of more than an hour.

But, it was Toyota that conquered the weather conditions, rain or shine, and took the 1-2 with the No. 8 and No. 7, piloted by  TS050 Hybrid Machines.

The No. 1 Porsche of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy rounded out the podium.

Their teammates, the championship-leading No. 2 Porche 919 Hybrid of Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley sat on the pole early and stretched their lead early in the race, but were caught out by the safety cars and changing conditions. The team could manage no better than fourth.

The finish ends the No. 2 car’s streak of 12 consecutive podium finishes, stretching back to Nurburgring 2016.

Because of Toyota’s win, and Porsche No. 2’s fourth place, the championship battle is still alive heading to Shanghai. What started on race day as a 52 point margin for Porsche is now down to just 39 with two races to go.

In GTE, it was Ferrari at the front in both Pro and Am categories.

AF Corse’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi took the win in GTE-Pro, jumping to the championship lead in the process.

The No. 51 Ferrari duo now hold a slim five-point margin over the No. 91 Porsche pair, which maintains their second place in the championship with Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki’s second-place finish in the race.

Their Porsche teammates, Michael Christiansen and Kevin Estre in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR, finished third.

The championship leaders going into the race, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell had a number of issues over the six-hour-less-14-minute event that caused them to finish at the back of the eight-car class. In the process, the No. 67 Ford pair lost their championship lead and have fallen back to fifth in the standings.

Michelin also went 1-2 in the GTE-AM category, with a pair of Ferrari 488’s taking the top two spots in the race.

The win went to the No. 54 Spirit of Race machine, with the pole-sitting No. 61 Clearwater Racing car finishing right behind.

The Alley : Trackside. Insight. Online.

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