Ford lies in second place in the World Championship for GTE Manufacturers, while Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla are in a strong second place in the GTE Drivers’ World Championship, making it vital for the #66 Ford GT to finish with a large haul of points at Fuji. In the #67 Ford GT, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell hope to continue their recovery from a tough start to the year, ready to go all out to score maximum points in Japan.
“It will be good to go racing again after what seems like a long time since Silverstone,” said team principal George Howard-Chappell. “We are hoping for better weather than last year because 2016 showed that Fuji really suits our car. We’re hoping for the cars and drivers to carry through the performance demonstrated at Silverstone. Japan is a great place to go racing and the people are very friendly and enthusiastic; and of course Fuji has a great motor racing history which always makes a difference.”
At the Fuji round in 2016, Mücke and Pla took the first WEC pole position for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing so they know they are fast at the circuit. They didn’t get to demonstrate this too much at the 2017 round, which was eventually red flagged after four hours due to poor visibility caused by rain and fog. For Mücke the problem was exacerbated by a broken wiper that left him unable to see anything out of the windscreen.
“Last year’s race was pretty interesting for me,” Mücke said. “I had to look out of the side windows to work out where I was and judge my braking points, which was okay going through the corners but pretty hard on the main straight! I hope we don’t have a repeat of that situation this year. We recovered to fourth place in the end but this year we want to be on the podium, continuing to collect points as we fight for the championship.”
The weather was so bad last year that Mount Fuji, which normally fills the view back down the main straight at Fuji, wasn’t visible at all throughout the race weekend.
The race was initially red flagged after just over one hour to wait for the fog to lift. Once the action continued, the drivers had to deal with a multitude of safety cars and slow zones, and with many different strategies at play it was hard to work out who had the upper hand.
The 2017 race was a tough one for Priaulx and Tincknell in the #67 Ford GT. The winners of the 2016 Japanese round finished eighth after contact with another car and a stop-go penalty. After finishing in second place at the last round at Silverstone though, the British duo are hoping for another podium finish at Fuji.
“Fuji was a real low point for us last year, which was a huge contrast to the previous year,” Priaulx said. “This year we have nothing to lose and everything to gain so we’re focusing on our next win! We had a good result at Silverstone, taking second, so we want to keep that momentum going and close the gap in the championship. Fuji is a track that normally suits our car so let’s see what we can do.”
The 6 Hours of Fuji gets underway on Sunday, October 14 at 03:00 GMT.