Season 8 of the FIA World Endurance Championship stops off this weekend at Fuji Speedway for the second calendar date after the season-opener at Silverstone. The Japanese circuit plays host to the 6 Hours of Fuji where Ferrari crews – two in the LMGTE Pro class and four in LMGTE Am – are summoned for a repeat demonstration of the competitiveness shown in England in a bid for precious championship points.
LMGTE Pro. Aboard the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE, courtesy of AF Corse, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, after the regrettable fourth final place at Silverstone, will wish to redeem themselves to replicate the success achieved in 2017. On the hunt for the first points in the campaign – after crashing out through no fault of their own – are the two #71 drivers, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina. The Ferrari crews, after having monopolized the front row in England, will hope to confirm the fine pace which had seen Pier Guidi and Calado look odds on to grab the victory in the opening season race.
LMGTE Am. After the winning debut in Silverstone, hopes remain high for the #83 488 GTE of AF Corse, crewed by François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen. The triumph on the historical British circuit, highlighted the brilliant performance of the 2018 Ferrari Challenge Europe champions, as well as the vast experience and speed of the French crew, already champions of the LMGTE Am class in 2016. The event in Fuji represents a race on home soil for the Japanese MR Racing team and its two Japanese drivers, Motoaki Ishikawa and Kei Cozzolino. The pair, alongside Olivier Beretta, celebrated the first podium of the series at Silverstone, getting their second season in WEC off to the best possible start. There are similar expectations for the #54 Ferrari of Spirit Of Race, as it was at this very track, at the foot of the three Japanese sacred mountains, where Giancarlo Fisichella, Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci won top honours two years ago. The fourth 488 GTE lining up at the start will be Red River Sport’s #62 car driven by Bonamy Grimes, Johnny Mowlem and Charles Hollings, hoping to improve on the eighth place taken in the opening race.
Fuji Speedway. The circuit hosting the second round of WEC Season 8 is one of the most well-known and well-equipped in Japan and the first to have hosted a Formula 1 Grand Prix in the Land of the Rising Sun. The track was re-designed in 2003 by architect Tilke, lengthening it to an overall 4,563 metres compared to the previous 4,359-metre version which had hosted the FIM World Sports-Prototype Championship from 1982 to 1988. The Fuji track, ever-present in the WEC calendar since 2012, stands out for its 1.5-kilometre start-finish straight, one of the longest in the world. In spite of this characteristic, the track features a sequence of fast curves interlaced with slower but nonetheless extremely technical ones. Among the most significant bends, the high-speed 300 R gets a worthy mention.
Timetable. The schedule kicks off on Friday at 11:00 local time with the first of two free practice sessions, to be followed by the second at 15:30, both with a 90-minute duration. The third session, however, set to take place at 09:20 on Saturday, will be sixty minutes long. The official qualifying gets underway on Saturday afternoon at 13:10 with 20 subsequent minutes of qualifying for the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes. The race itself starts on Sunday at 11:00 and is set to conclude some six hours later.
Source. Ferrari/Photo. The Editor