Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer extended their championship lead in the drivers’ standings of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

The trio, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, now have a 16.5 point lead over Audi Motorsport stablemates Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen with just the final round of the season – the Six Hours of Shanghai – remaining on the eight race calendar. They extended their lead with a second place in the Six Hours of Fuji, falling short of beating the Toyota team for the victory but crucially beating McNish and Kristensen, who completed the podium in the second Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid.

Through the first half of the race the #1 Audi was part of a duel for the lead with the Toyota, Treluyer taking the lead after a mistake by rival Nicolas Lapierre. However, a stop for fresh tyres dropped Treluyer back into second and while closing the gap back down to Lapierre – who was in the midst of a double stint on his Michelins – he clashed with GT car, damaging the front of the car which needed to be replaced in a pitstop.

Furthermore, Treluyer was deemed to be at fault for the incident, Marcel Fassler forced to serve a stop-go penalty having taken over the car from the Frenchman while the damage was repaired.

The double delay dropped the trio to third but anchoring the race for the crew Lotterer climbed back into second, winning the internecine battle at Audi. In the second half of the race McNish and Kristensen struggled with the handling of the #2 car after they too made contact with another car, McNish hitting Ryan Dalziel’s LMP2 car at the same place where Treluyer’s charge had been halted. However, the team had opted not to change the damaged bodywork, the car completing the race without some of the aerodynamic devices on the front-left of the car.

“This was a disappointing day for number ‘2’ because our car felt really good in longer distances before the race,” Kristensen said. “We’d have liked to be in contention for victory but the rubber on our tires that we picked up from the track cost us a lot of time. Unfortunately, Allan was involved in an accident – in which the front hood of our car was damaged. Towards the end, I was struggling with a lot of oversteer. It’s been a difficult day.”

“We drove a great race and no doubt had the potential to win,” said Lotterer of his race. “The team and all the mechanics did a top-notch job. Unfortunately, we lost ground due to the penalty – that was bitter. But you can’t always win in motorsport, even though I’d have been particularly happy to have done so in Japan, my second home. Now we’ve got to settle for second place. Two weeks from now, in China, we want to win the title.”