Porsche is bringing its pair of 919 Hybrids to Fuji Speedway in the hope of consolidating its lead in the manufacturers’ standings as well as gaining ground on Audi in the drivers’ championship.
Fuji, playing host to the sixth round of the World Endurance Championship, is the start of a Far East leg for the field and Porsche are hoping its blistering form in LMP1 can continue on a track featuring a 1.5km straight – the longest on the calendar.
The Stuttgart based manufacturer are hoping to use the face melting power of the 919 to claim its fourth win in a row after dominant displays at the Nurburgring and last time out at Austin, not forgetting of course Nick Tandy, Nico Hulkenberg and Earl Bamber’s masterful victory at Le Mans.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of LMP1 at Porsche, said: “Our string of three victories in a row is impressive, as is the fact the Porsche 919 Hybrid has been dominating qualifying. However, the most recent race in Austin was a reminder of how fragile success can be with such a highly complex race car. We have to stay very focussed to extend the lead in the manufacturers’ championship and gain ground in the drivers’ standings.”
With 220 points to Audi’s 184, the squad very much are in the driver’s seat in terms of the manufacturers’ title however, Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer hold a slender lead in the drivers’ championship for Audi – only ten points ahead of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.
Webber said: “I always enjoyed driving at Fuji and love the setting with Mount Fuji in the background. Fuji is an iconic venue for sports car racing in Japan, and we had a great welcome last year with many Porsche fans cheering us on. I had a good battle with the Toyota at the start, in my first stint and, even though a puncture hurt our race, we still finished third and set the fastest lap of the race.”
Webber’s team mate in the #17, Timo Bernhard, echoed Webber’s love of Fuji adding: “The 2014 race was my first one in Japan and I have very fond memories to it, especially because of our podium finish which was great. I instantly really liked the country. The track’s tarmac is rather slippery, and offers a huge variety of different characteristics with a long straight and tight corners. In the World Championship we now face the final stages, and we also want to catch Audi in the drivers’ standings.”
In the second Porsche, the #18 they are 26 points behind their team mates in third place in the standings but are hoping their luck is changing.
Romain Dumas said: “We have had bad luck for three races in a row now, because there were problems with our car in Le Mans, at the Nürburgring and in Austin. I just wish this string of bad luck ends and we can have a clean race in Fuji.”
Neel Jani is hoping that this race can see their performance in qualifying, where they’ve claimed three poles in a row, be translated to race pace: “It is going to be my third race in Fuji. The long straight is a landmark of the ciruit and it will be interesting to see if the Audis – like in Austin – are faster there than we are. At this time of the year the weather can play an interesting role too in Fuji. When we manage to finally have a straight-forward race, the results will automatically be good. Like in qualifying, where we had three consecutive poles.”
Find out if Porsche have what it takes to claim glory at the Six Hours of Fuji on October 11th.