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12 Oct 2016

Race for World Championship begins to hot up at the foot of Mount Fuji

FIA World Endurance Championship Round 7 Preview.

This Sunday is the seventh out of nine rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship. For Porsche the six-hour event at the Fuji International Speedway kicks off as the race for its mission to defend its title hots up. After five race wins for the 919 Hybrid – including the Le Mans 24 Hours – Porsche leads the manufacturers’ world championship with 238 points ahead of Audi (185) and Toyota (137).

In the drivers’ world championship, the trio of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb top the standings with 130 points. They have an advantage of 37.5 points over the best Audi trio and half a point more to the best placed Toyota drivers. Mathematically, a title decision in Japan would be possible, but only if there were extreme circumstances. A race win is rewarded with 25 points, and this is the jackpot the crew of the sister Porsche took three times in a row: this way Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) propelled themselves to fourth place (78.5 points) in the championship.

The Speedway at the foot of the picturesque stratovolcano is very demanding when it comes to set-up work. On the 1.5-kilometre long straight minimum drag is required. But through the 16 corners, that are partly very tight, of the 4.549 kilometre short track downforce is needed. Aerodynamic amendments are limited in the WEC. Fine tuning for the track can be difficult and the competition in the top category of the class one Le Mans prototypes is extremely tight. The smallest advantage or disadvantage may decide the overall victory. 

“The competition in LMP1 is breath taking,” said Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1. “At our most recent race in Austin, again all three manufacturers involved made it onto the podium. The general framework, such as changing track temperatures, lead to decisive performance differences. We also face an ever present risk in traffic, when the fast prototypes lap the GT cars. Looking at the points standings, we are on target to defend both our world championship titles. But in a total of 18 hours of racing that remain just everything can happen.”

Team Principal Andreas Seidl added: “Generally speaking, we can expect cooler temperatures in Fuji than we had recently in Austin and this should help. Also the 919 with its relatively high downforce should be strong in the corners that are the challenging parts of the circuit. In 2015 we had some heavy rain in Japan. At this time of the year this can easily happen again, but our team has proved that we are able to handle difficult situations as well.”

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