Toyota Gazoo Racing Wins 6 Hours of Fuji – One-Two Finish for TS050 Hybrid

By Steve & Tamami Laser

Toyota Gazoo Racing, determined to please its home fans in the 6 Hours of Fuji race today in Japan, earned an impressive one-two victory after battling tough conditions on a wet track early in the race. The race marked the fourth round of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

After starting at Fuji Speedway in eighth place, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in car #7 crossed the finish line six hours later to win the race. Their hybrid racer was 11.44 seconds ahead of their teammates in car #8, Sébastian Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, and Fernando Alonso.

With rain-slicked stands filled with home fans and Toyota colleagues cheering them on, both teams used the high-downforce-specification TS050 Hybrid at Fuji. Thanks to their winning ways, Toyota Gazoo Racing captured its home event for the sixth time, from seven WEC races, since returning to endurance racing in 2012.

Following the impressive results at Fuji, Toyota Gazoo Racing now leads in the teams’ World Championship by 14 points ahead of second-place Rebellion Racing. Meanwhile, Sébastian, Kazuki and Fernando increased their positions in the drivers’ standings, with Mike, Kamui and José moving up to second.

During the race, when Kazuki handed over to Sébastien after a two tough hours, car #8 was about 10 seconds behind car #7. Yet with fresher tires Sébastian began to narrow the gap on a dry track. Car #8 took the lead when Kamui brought a lengthy two-and-a-half-hour trek to an end, as Mike took to the driver’s seat.

Depending on which car had the freshest tires, positions on the track changed between the two cars. Following a yellow flag with just two hours remaining, José in #7 took the lead by 20 seconds ahead of Fernando in car #8.

During lap 153, José recorded the fastest lap of the race while holding a solid gap at the front prior to handing the lead to Kamui with only 30 minutes remaining.

When the chequered flag dropped, Kamui was first to cross the line in car #7, with Kazuki taking second place in car #8.

Preparation, Practice & Qualifying

Preparations for the 6 Hours of Fuji race started on Friday with two 90-minute practice sessions. On Saturday there was another 60-minute practice session followed by a short 20-minute qualifying to determine grid order.

Whether they’re walking the track or taking rides in tour buses like the ones above, drivers, team members and support crew check out the Fuji Speedway course from many different perspectives while preparing for the race.

Quick History of Fuji Speedway

Toyota-owned Fuji International Speedway, located in Shizuoka Prefecture on the foothills of Mount Fuji, is a world-class circuit about 110km south of central Tokyo. It’s just a few kilometers away from Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji Technical Center, where the 1,000 hp Toyota Hybrid System-Racing in TS050 is developed and built.

Fuji Speedway has evolved since opening in 1965, when a banked oval-style section made up half its length. In 1976, Fuji hosted the first Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix. Toyota acquired the racecourse in 2000. Following a lengthy renovation that started in 2003, Fuji Speedway reopened in 2005 and hosted Formula 1 in 2007 and 2008.

News source and photos courtesy of Toyota Gazoo Racing Co., and Toyota Motor Corp.

Story (commentary) © 2018