FIA WEC 6h Fuji – Ferrari and Porsche on Front Row


Fuji, 10th September, 2022

Qualifying for the 6 Hours of Fuji saw two 488 GTEs finish in second place in the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes, the number 51 AF Corse and the number 85 Iron Dames, respectively. This was a favourable result for James Calado as he and Alessandro Pier Guidi seek to maintain their championship lead. The session also confirmed the competitiveness of Sarah Bovy and the female crew in the fuchsia liveried Ferrari, who finished second in the previous World Championship race at Monza. We heard from the competitors at the end of qualifying. The session saw many crews bunched together within a few hundredths on a dry track with an asphalt temperature of 41°C and air temperature of 27°C.

James Calado in the number 51 488 GTE turned in a time of 1’36’’566, only 195 thousandths off the pole position of Michael Christensen in a Porsche. The other AF Corse car, number 52, driven by Miguel Molina, finished fourth, 480 thousandths behind the leader. The Briton, reigning world champion with Alessandro Pier Guidi, completed five laps, the same distance as his teammate.

The number 85 Ferrari 488 GTE of the Iron Dames’ all-female crew, who took a historic pole position in the last round at Monza, confirmed their status as one of the favourites. Sarah Bovy claimed second place with an excellent 1’39’’371, just sixty-two thousandths behind Ben Keating’s Aston Martin. The other Maranello cars competing in Japan also performed well. Franck Dezoteux was third in the number 71 of Spirit of Race, while Thomas Flohr and Christoph Ulrich came eighth and eleventh, respectively, in AF Corse’s 488 GTEs. Claudio Schiavoni was thirteenth in the colours of Iron Lynx.

The cars will take to the track for the fifth round of the World Endurance Championship late tomorrow morning, lining up on the starting grid at the circuit on the slopes of Mount Fuji. The lights will go off at the stroke of 11am. Drivers’ comments on the qualifyingMichael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #92)“Personally, I’m delighted that I managed such a great lap. With a view to the championship, the point for pole position can be very important, maybe even decisive. In the race, we’d like to control the field from the front – and that works best when you start from pole position. We did a perfect job today, now we’re facing the next challenge on race day. I’m feeling optimistic.”Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 911 RSR #91)“It was okay, but I was a bit unlucky on the first three laps – another car kept getting in my way. With a clear run, I definitely could’ve done better. Now we have to live with P3. Still, anything is possible in a long six-hour race.”Nicolas Leutwiler (Porsche 911 RSR #46)“Best Porsche in our class! That’s what I was aiming for in qualifying. I’m really pleased. I concentrated so hard on the ideal racing line. I made just one small mistake on my flying lap. P5 is fine – anything is possible from that grid position. If we make it through without incident, we’ll have a good chance.”

James Calado #51
It wasn’t easy to handle the traffic, given the large number of cars on the track. Considering the temperatures, which meant that the tyres could only be used optimally for one fast lap, we concentrated on this strategy. Although we didn’t exploit our car to its full potential, we secured an excellent second place and are confident about tomorrow. According to the weather forecast, the race should be staged in dry track conditions with temperatures around 30° C, but we know that the weather can change quickly at Fuji. In the conditions expected, the tyres, especially the rear ones, would be severely tested. I expect a challenging race. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that both cars can deliver an excellent result”.

Miguel Molina  #52
We found ourselves in traffic during lap one, and as we know, the chance to set the best time in qualifying is limited to one attempt here. In any case, the race is what counts most, and during the third free practice session this morning, we saw how fast our car is in long stints, which is definitely a good thing”.

Sarah Bovy #85
The team provided me with a high-speed and efficient car, a tremendous job for which I thank the entire team, including my teammates who contributed to an excellent set-up. I am happy with our performance. I am just discovering this track where I will be racing for the first time. Of course, I am sorry we didn’t take pole position, but we will do our best in the race, as we have an excellent package. I have my fingers crossed that we can keep out of trouble during the race: I know how fast my teammates are, and I will try not to be outshone”.

Qualifying result
GTE-Pro class

1. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR #92, 1:36.371 minutes
2. Pier Guidi/Calado (I/UK), Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 1:36.566 minutes
3. Bruni/Lietz (I/A), Porsche 911 RSR #91, 1:36.800 minutes
4. Molina/Fuoco (E/I), Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 1:36.851 minutes
5. Milner/Tandy (USA/UK), Corvette C8.R #64, 1:37.127 minutes

GTE-Am class
1. Keating/Chaves/Sörensen (USA/P/DK), Aston Martin #33, 1:39.309 minutes
2. Bovy/Frey/Gatting (B/CH/DK), Ferrari 488 GTE #85, 1:39.371 minutes
3. Dezoteux/Ragues/Aubry (F/F/F), Ferrari 488 GTE #71, 1:39.461 minutes

5. Cairoli/Pedersen/Leutwiler (I/DK/CH), Porsche 911 RSR #46, 1:39.796 minutes
7. Kimura/Millroy/Barnicoat (J/UK/UK), Porsche 911 RSR #56, 1:39.853 minutes
8. Ried/Priaulx/Tincknell (D/UK/UK), Porsche 911 RSR #77, 1:39.874 minutes
9. Poordad/Lindsey/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 RSR #88, 1:40.052 minutes
10. Wainwright/Barker/Pera (UK/UK/I), Porsche 911 RSR #86, 1:40.271 minutes