WEC: Toyota Beats Porsche for 1-2 Finish at 6 Hours of Fuji
Torrential downpours shortened the race to just 4 1/2 hours.
Toyota's Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima were able to take home the manufacturer's first FIA World Endurance Championship victory since May at this weekend's 6 Hours of Fuji. Capitalizing on the improved pace that we saw in Austin, the Japanese team was able to finish 1-2 ahead of the field of Porsche 919 Hybrids in a race that was plagued by heavy rain throughout. Eventually, the event was called-off after having run for just 4 1/2 hours, allowing teams and drivers to be awarded full points for their efforts in Japan.
Two red flags were waved for delays during the race as a result of the weather. Officials hoped to restart the action with ten minutes to go in the 6-hour time frame, but yet another period of heavy rain made conditions too hazardous to go on. This awarded Buemi and Nakajima a victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing, finally overcoming the mismatch with Porsche that last played in Toyota's favor at Spa-Francorchamps.
FIA rules state that if a race is run for 70 percent of its targeted duration, then all entered drivers can be awarded the number of points they achieved at the time of the race's calling. This means that Anthony Davidson, pilot of the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, was able to gain points without getting behind the wheel of a car.
This win by Toyota kept the WEC title open for Shanghai where Porsche will once again try to clench in its final LMP1 season. Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber must finish ahead of Buemi and Nakajima to take the title home for Porsche but were unable to do so at Fuji as they eventually finished one lap behind.
"In the end, we were a little bit lucky that the red flag came when it did, but I think we deserved the victory because we had good pace especially in the heavier wet conditions," said Nakajima after the race. "We said before the race that we wanted a one-two and somehow we managed it."
Toyota claimed that the No.8 car could have finished the race had it been restarted for the final 10 minutes after a strong showing in the rainy conditions. Regardless of what could have been, the team will duke it out with Porsche in China next month to keep its championship hopes alive.