Looking forward to Fuji WEC

Thursday, October 03, 2019

With thirty race cars having been flown over to Japan last week and with all formalities now apparently over, tomorrow sees the start of track action for the second round of the 2019-20 World Endurance Championship under the inspiring shadow of Mount Fuji.

This being a six hour race, Fuji has something of a habit of creating the unexpected, particularly with regards to the weather and its own little micro-climates as the rain at last year gave rise to Aston Martin Racing claiming its first GTE Pro Class pole position for their new turbo charged variant of the Vantage GTE race car in only its fourth competitive race. Indeed, it was after the Fuji round last year that set the factory team along an unexpected but totally welcome run of an overall class wins next time out at Shanghai and another podium a Spa to end its inaugural season after Le Mans with only one DNF.

With the factory team now having a full season and a half of technical and comparative data for both their GTE Pro and GTE Am entered cars, we hope for an equally enthralling race like what we see saw at the opening round of the season where both the #97 Pro car of Maxime Martin with Alex Lynn as well as the #98 Am car of Paul Dalla Lana, Darren Turner and WEC newcomer Ross Gunn finish on their respective class podiums with a P3 and P2 by the end of that opening four hours of racing.

With the #95 car of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen not having the opening race that they would have liked, we can be sure that the Dane Train will be pushing for all that they are worth (whatever the weather) in Fuji.

Partner team, TF Sport with their driver line up of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam showed plenty of pace within their new bright red new Vantage GTE by claiming the GTE Am Class pole position but had their race strategy scuppered by untimely interventions on track that eventually saw them finish mid table in their group of eleven runners. They do however, have the added psychological momentum of taking with them to Japan their class Championship win from the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup for the team and both Yoluc and Eastwood - that must be worth a couple of tenths per lap?!?!

Last year both GTE Am AMR cars were able to benefit to the tune of two podium positions after both Dempsey Proton Porsche's were disqualified for their refuelling irregularities that were uncovered at the race.

With the Championship continuing to run their 'Auto-BoP' as well as a new for 2019 success penalties with the GTE classes, Fuji features an unchanged balance of performance framework for both the factory GTE Pro cars whilst both GTE Am cars of AMR and TF Sport feature minor adjustments as part of the new latter process.

Whilst supporting slightly different weight and boost characteristics to their GTE Pro brothers, the #98 car will have an added 20kg of success ballast countered with a minus 20kg 'offset for tyre safety boundaries' leaving their base weight the same as it was for round one whilst the #90 TF Sport car will have an effective weight reduction of 20kg ready for round two. All other cars in class except for the three podium finishers at Silverstone will have the same technical changes made.

As always, Free Practice 1 sees the start to the WEC proceedings on track with that 90 minute session starting at 11:00hrs local with another ninety minute session at 15:30hrs. Saturday mornings final Free Practice session will proceed the GTE class Qualifying which is due to start at 13:10hrs local.

The start to Sunday's six hour race will begin at 11:00hrs local (BST -8hrs)

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