FIA WEC 6h Fuji – Ferrari wins one-two


 

Fuji, 11th September, 2022

The Maranello marque dominated the 6 Hours of Fuji, round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship. In the LMGTE Pro class, Ferrari claimed a one-two crucial for the world championship, with the Italian cars always in the top positions. The number 51 Ferrari 488 GTE with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi was first over the finish line, ahead of the other AF Corse car, number 52, crewed by Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina. In the LMGTE Am class, second place for the Iron Dames embellished the penultimate round of the world championship. The all-female crew of Rahel Frey, Sarah Bovy, and Michelle Gatting were making their debut on the Japanese track.

LMGTE Pro
The Ferraris starred on the track on the slopes of Mount Fuji, holding the top positions throughout the event. This was due to excellent tyre management, the Italo-Spanish crew’s team spirit as they aimed to maximise the haul of championship points, and the efficiency of the V8 engine, with its excellent fuel management avoiding a short stop in the closing stages. Starting from second place, Calado took the lead during lap one, while Molina in the sister car was second at the end of the first hour. The number 51 and 52 488 GTEs thus began their control, managing their advantage over the number 92 Porsche, which they retained even after the driver change stops before Pier Guidi and Fuoco’s stints. In the final part, having completed 171 laps, Pier Guidi slowed his lap times, allowing his young teammate to move into first. With just over an hour to go, Calado retook the wheel and racked up some benchmark lap times, making the most of the fresh tyres. He was helped by the professionalism of his teammates in the second car, who gave way to the Briton, allowing him to put valuable points on the board. The crews celebrated a historic one-two at the chequered flag, with the Briton ahead of Fuoco by 0.284 seconds. The result gives the Anglo-Italian duo a twelve-point lead over their rivals Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, while the Italo-Spanish pair trail by twenty-seven points. Ferrari moved into the lead in the Constructors’ standings with 216 points ahead of the Sakhir round, which, being a longer eight-hour race, offers a bigger points haul. The reigning champions clinched their second win of the season, following that at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, celebrating on the Fuji podium as they did in 2017, a year that ended with the world title win.

LMGTE Am
The Iron Dames confirmed their competitiveness. The women set off from the front row on their debut at the Japanese circuit and celebrated by crossing the finish line runners-up, equalling the result achieved at the last round in Monza. Sarah Bovy, at the wheel in the first stint, Rahel Frey and Ferrari Challenge Champion Michelle Gatting drove a remarkably consistent race also marked by some outstanding overtaking, such as the Swiss driver’s pass on lap 102 against Thiim’s Aston Martin. Fourth position went to AF Corse’s number 54, crewed by Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Davide Rigon, while the Spirit of Race drivers Franck Dezoteux, Pierre Ragues and Gabriel Aubry finished seventh. AF Corse’s number 21 car took tenth place with drivers Simon Mann, Christoph Ulrich and Toni Vilander, ahead of Iron Lynx’s Ferrari 488 GTE with Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Appointments
The World Endurance Championship will be back in the spotlight with the season’s last event at the 8 Hours of Bahrain on the weekend of 12-13 November.

 

Antonello Coletta
“We are delighted with the one-two here at Fuji. It is strategic for the championship and comes at an important time. This result means we arrive on the eve of the final ever race in the LMGTE Pro facing a battle with Porsche, the other manufacturer which, like us, has participated in this world championship class since the first race. I want to emphasise the great team spirit, which again saw the number 52 488 GTE crew willing to help achieve the best possible team result. It is one of the most important attributes and one we will also focus on at the next race in Bahrain, where we will give everything to try to win the titles at stake”.

James Calado
“We enjoyed a great race with both cars, achieving a significant result for the drivers’ and constructors’ standings. At the start, I took first position by overtaking Estre. Then we ran a good race, always sporting, and managed the tyres as best as possible. Now our minds turn to the season finale at Bahrain, where, as always, it won’t be easy, but we will certainly give one hundred per cent as a team to secure our third world title”.

Alessandro Pier Guidi
“After three years, coming back to Japan and racing in front of so many fans was really exciting. Achieving first and second place for Ferrari is enormously important for the championship, where we have now also moved into top spot in the constructors’ standings. The key to success? I think the choice of tyres enabled us to be consistent throughout the stints”.

Miguel Molina
“We achieved the best possible result for the team. Our car’s second place earned us vital points. Bahrain? We aim to run our best race and fight for the constructors’ title”.

Michelle Gatting
“I was at the wheel for two stints: the first one was tricky because I had to think about tyre management, while I was able to push hard in the second. The car was perfect. After two second places, our goal in the immediate future is to win a race. Our race pace here in Japan was better than at Monza, so we will try to accomplish that in Bahrain”.

Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92): “We tried everything but we couldn’t do more today. We lacked quite a lot of speed. After starting from pole position, we managed to fend off the Ferraris for a while, but eventually, we couldn’t hold them off anymore. They then gradually pulled away from us. The only possible chance would have been to make a smart strategic decision during a safety car phase, but this scenario didn’t eventuate in the race.”

Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 RSR #92)
“Ferrari was too strong, we couldn’t match the pace. On the long straight, they were quite a bit faster than us. We could never make up for that in the corners – no chance. Although we put in an immaculate drive, we were more than 30 seconds behind at the end. That says it all.”

Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91)
“We had a really good car and squeezed everything we could out of it. But it wasn’t enough to seriously challenge the competition today. Compared to our rivals, we lacked top speed and acceleration. That was obvious. Unfortunately, Porsche only managed to finish third and fourth. We have to turn this around in Bahrain.”

Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #91)
“We were clearly too slow. In such circumstances, it’s not much fun if you’re trailing behind. But we couldn’t do more today. The car handled very well and our team did a great job.”


Race result
GTE-Pro class:

1. Pier Guidi/Calado (I/UK), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 217 laps
2. Molina/Fuoco (E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 217 laps
3. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 217 laps
4. Bruni/Lietz (I/A), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 216 laps
5. Milner/Tandy (USA/UK), Corvette C8.R #64, 215 laps

GTE-Am class
1. Keating/Chaves/Sörensen (USA/P/DK), Aston Martin #33, 213 laps
2. Frey/Gatting/Bovy (CH/DK/B), Ferrari 488 GTE #85, 212 laps
3. Hoshino/Fujii/Fagg (J/J/UK), Aston Martin #777, 212 laps
6. Cairoli/Pedersen/Leutwiler (I/DK/CH), Porsche 911 RSR #46, 211 laps
8. Kimura/Millroy/Barnicoat (J/UK/UK), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 211 laps
9. Poordad/Lindsey/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 RSR #88, 211 laps
12. Wainwright/Barker/Pera (UK/UK/I), Porsche 911 RSR #86, 193 laps
DNF. Ried/Priaulx/Tincknell (D/UK/UK), Porsche 911 RSR #77, 128 laps