Double TF Sport joy in Japan as both their Aston Martins hit the podium at penultimate round of WEC at Fuji

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The #33 TF Sport FIA WEC entered car of Ben Keating, Henrique Chaves and Marco Sorenson responded to their untimely demise within the last round of the Champiosnhip at Monza in the best and most emphatic way possible earlier this morning with a near perfect lights to flag GTE Am Class win at the six hours of Fuji.

With the team striving to see out the effects of that crash in Monza with the conversion of one of the European Le Mans Series entered Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE’s just ahead of the start of formal track proceedings, it didn’t take Keating long to get back up to speed as he secured class pole position from the Iron Dames Ferrari.

With the weather having taken a turn for the better after the latest weather front had passed the Fuji International Speedway Circuit by, the race began under warm and dry conditions as the thirty-six strong Hypercar, LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am Class grid took the start.

Whilst the #33 car appeared to be very much in control of things at the time, both the #777 D’Station Racing of Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii, Charlie Fagg and the #98 Northwest AMR of Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard and Nick Thiim were in trouble with those in Race Control as both Gentleman drivers would have all their Qualifying times deleted for various track and pit lane transgressions for both to start at the rear of the grid.

Despite the differences in starting positions, it wouldn’t be long before all three Aston Martins were racing each other line astern before the #98 of Pittard overtook the #33 car of Keating with Fujii on yet another one of his charges directly behind in third in only the opening minutes.

With the differences in driver ranking between the three Aston’s also coming into play, the gap between the leading #98 and following #777 to the chasing #33 was inevitably going to grow before the #777 would eventually lead their ‘home’ race for the first time.

This time around, it would be the Porsche’s that would struggle for performance as the Aston Martin’s and the Ferrari’s were allowed to race as the Aston’s further split strategy with both Fujii and Keating double stinting.

By the end of the first third of the race, the #777 D’Station Racing AMR was still leading the class with the #33 car in hot pursuit as the #98 Northwest cart had dropped to P6 on their pits top cycle but that had changed again at the halfway mark as the #33 car of Chaves had assumed the class lead again over the #98 car of Thiim in third and the #777 car now in fourth.

As the race progressed, the three Aston’s still only had three Ferrari’s in their midst to be aware of as the Porsche’s continued to struggle and once too often became the victim of on-track assault.

Two hours remaining and the #33 TF Sport car was still in control of the class as the Northwest and D’Station Racing cars were having to battle it out for their positions of seniority as Sorenson, Fagg and Thiim would eventually take the three cars to the end. 

By the end of the penultimate round of the 2022 WEC season, the #33 TF Sport car would take a commanding one lap win over the #85 Iron Dames Ferrari whilst the #777 D’Station Racing would earn a much-deserved P3 finish in class at their home event. The #98 Northwest AMR car would eventually come home in fifth to secure a winner takes all encounter with the #33 car at the final round of the Championship in Bahrain in the middle of November.

Photo credits – D Gibson / A Lofthouse / WEC




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