While the closed cockpits of the GTE cars may have offered the drivers some protection in the driving rain at Fuji International Speedway today, the visibility in the middle of the grid was limited to almost nothing due to the spray from the 12 prototypes ahead of the leading LMGTE Pro entry.
That car was Aston Martin Racing’s No.97 Vantage V8 of Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Frédéric Makowiecki which was classified as the winner, ahead of the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Fisichella-Bruni and the No.91 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR of Bergmeister-Pilet.
The No.71 AF Corse Ferrari of Japanese fan-favourite Kamui Kobayashi and team mate Toni Vilander had to start from the back of the grid after missing qualifying due to a fuel system problem, and the No.99 Aston Martin of Stanaway-Lamy had a scary start to day’s events when the New Zealander aquaplaned off track as he drove round to the starting grid, damaging left side bodywork and suspension. The Aston Martin Racing mechanics carried out a lightning repair but the car finished well down the LMGTE order.
Brazilian Bruno Senna, another fan favourite, was this weekend teamed with Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen in the No.95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 and their class victory in the LMGTE Am category has extended their lead in the points’ classification. IMSA Performance Matmut, Krohn Racing and AF Corse made early stops to change drivers, in order to try and fulfil the regulations concerning minimum and maximum driving time for the non-professional drivers – a regulation which was waived due to Force Majeure. The No.96 Aston Martin of Campbell-Walter-Hall-Adam made it a 1-2 for the British manufacturer, with the No.88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Ried-Roda-Ruberti finishing third in the classification.
The No.50 Larbre Competition Corvette C6-ZR1 of Fernando Rees, Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal also had a tricky start to their day – aquaplaning off track on the formation lap. The French team did a fantastic job to repair the car in a short space of time, but the Corvette had to make an unscheduled pit stop to repair its rear lights which put it two laps down in the final classification. Over 41,000 fans visited Fuji International Speedway over the weekend of the FIA WEC’s visit, and the Championship organisers, teams and drivers’ thoughts were all for those after the shortened race today.
Gerard Neveu, CEO of the FIA WEC said, “Today’s 6 Hours of Fuji was not the race we wanted to put on for the thousands of Japanese fans who travelled to see the FIA World Endurance Championship. However the sporting officials took the right decisions with regards to the race in the interests of safety for our drivers and teams, which is always of primary importance.
“We acknowledge that this situation is still a huge disappoint for the fans and we would like to personally thank everyone who stayed in the pouring rain until the final decision to stop the race was taken. As a token of our gratitude we opened the pit lane at the end of the event, so the drivers could also show their appreciation. We look forward to coming back again to Japan in 2014 and we hope that the fans will re-join us on the 5th October next year.”