A momentous result for Aston Martin Racing at Fuji 6Hour

Sunday, October 06, 2019

An extra-ordinary second round of the 2019-20 World Endurance Championship season was witnessed during the early hours of this morning as three out of the four Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE's entered not the Championship finished on the podium after an exhausting six hours of Fuji.

Racing at the venue where the team secured their new turbo charged Vantage GTE's first ever pole position last year, the team ended todays race going some better than last time out at Silverstone where just the #97 secured P3 in GTE Pro and the #98 secured P2 in GTE Am, to end up occupying both P1 and P3 in GTE Pro as well as taking top honours in GTE Am.

For the #90 TF Sport car of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam, the six hours of Fuji well and truly buried the demons of Silverstone from earlier this year where their first class position of the season was let slip for a lowly mid table finish to end up taking class pole again in Fuji (albeit via the removal of times from the then pace setting Project 1 Porsche on a technicality) to complete a near perfect lights to flag victory run to earn themselves their first ever class win in the Championship.

"It was perfect from start to finish' said Eastwood after his last stint. "Salih ran a great opening first leg, we rode our luck a little with an early Full Course Yellow but we got away with it".

“The first WEC win feels pretty good! My stint was good and the car felt great, very easy to drive, so for me I was able to pull out the gap so that my teammates could be in a good position to manage the race afterwards, a great result” said Yoluc after the chequered flag.

Indeed, such was their own dominance in class that the car only ever relinquished the class lead during the many pit stop cycles to end up securing the overall class win by over a lap from the #83 AF Corse prepared Ferrari in P2.

Unfortunately for some, it was not all plain sailing in the Am Class as the #98 AMR factory prepared car for Paul Dalla Lana, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn was effectively 'taken out' of any race intentions after a mistake by D'Station Racings team Principle Satoshi Hoshino in his Dempsey Proton prepared Porsche on only the first lap. 

Political correctness came a little into play after that event (which left the #98 car needing extensive rear end repairs that would ultimately cost the crew over 18 laps to their class) as D'Station Racing is also an AMR Partner team in both the Japanese Super GT and Pirelli Super Taikyu Series - and the owners of three new AMR Vantage GT3's!

Dalla Lana had to use his many years of business experience when interview to reflect upon "an incident that should never have happened - it was super frustrating but things like that do happen from time to time". Whilst the #98 car was repaired and rejoined the race it would ultimately finish eleven laps down to its nearest class competitor in the eleven car strong class.

Whilst it was unlucky for them, split strategies, luck and common determination helped both the #97 and #95 Pro cars through to what nearly was a class 1-2 after both cars braved it out in the damp, drizzly weather and split their tyre strategy to capitalise upon Porsche's indiscipline for track limits and Ferrari's continued lack of race pace.

Making headway from the outset, it took Marco Sorensen just under an hour to hit the front of the GTE field, to lose it again at the first stop only for the #91 to get pinged a drive through for exceeding  track limits. With the team also splitting tyre strategy, a two tyre change for the #97 allowed them to get out in front of the Porsches and the #95 before that penalty and it was only a matter of time before Nick Thiim had caught onto the tail of Martin to create the possibly 1-2 scenario.

Just after two hours of racing the first spots of the forecasted rain started to appear, not enough to force the hand of the teams into making a tyre stop but enough to make the track greasy and force the drivers into changing their braking distances and line around the corners.

Differences in strategy at this point earned the #95 and comfortable cushion to the chasing pack, allowing them another full service stop to still come out in front - just ahead of the #97 still in P2. Two successive FCY's for debris killed some time on the clock and saved a little more fuel for everyone but there was still an underlying threat of yet more rain before the end of the race.

At the final stop for the #95, Sorensen confirmed an intermittent radio issue for the car - visually confirmed by Thiim then in the car till the end 'playing' with the connections from his helmet headset to the car but maintaining a new cushion of nearly 19 seconds - all was good.

At the end, and whilst the #95 took the top step the #92 Porsche would split the yellow and green GTE Pro cars to a tune of 20 seconds between them and the #97. Even so, with both Pro cars finishing on the podium who's going to complain?!?!

"Winning a race like the one we did today is why we all do it," said Sørensen. "It was great to be involved in the fight for the lead in the first hour of the race, and because we were leading, after that the race seemed to fly by. This was an important win for Aston Martin and and I am very proud for the team. I'm delighted."

After these results, the #95 crew move up to P2 in the GTE Drivers Championship just one pint behind the #92 Porsche with Martin and Lynn only six points behind them. In GTE Am, the TF Sport crew also move up to P2 after their win today but the #98 crew slip back to P5 after their low points score today.

Next race in the WEC clanger is at Shanghai in three weeks time.

Photo credits - AMR / TF Sport

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes