Michelin Conquers WEC 2014 At Fuji

Motorsports

Published on October 14th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Michelin Conquers WEC 2014 At Fuji

WEC 2014_fuji_2

After Saturday’s close qualifying shootout, which saw the N°8 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid (Davidson/Buemi) beat the N°20 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Bernhard/Webber) to pole position by just 0.043s, this year’s 6 Hours of Fuji got off to a thrilling start.

As he approached the start line after completing his formation lap, Sébastien Buemi (Toyota) delayed his acceleration to try to catch his chasers by surprise. Even so, he was passed by the experienced Mark Webber (Porsche) who failed to fall for the Swiss driver’s trap. The two men then duelled for supremacy but were both overtaken in Sector 2 by André Lotterer who put the N°2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro in front. The German’s lead did not last long, however, since his car’s fuel consumption capped by the regulations forced him to lift and allow his opponents to recover the initiative, with Buemi emerging on top thanks to the power of his hybrid powertrain and to his ‘low temperature’ soft-compound MICHELIN tyres.

Webber managed to stay on the Toyota’s tail until Lap 10 when accident debris from another car sliced one of his tyres, forcing him to make an unscheduled stop. The N°7 Toyota (Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima) took advantage of the Australian’s woes to ease into second place.

2014 World Endurance Championship.Round 5, Fuji, Japan.9th - 12th October 2014.Photo: Drew Gibson.

After that, the two Japanese cars were able to maintain their pace and defend their lead to the chequered flag, helped by an aggressive strategy which saw the team run single-stints on low- temperature MICHELINs. The tactic helped it to keep Audi Sport Team Joest and Porsche Team – which used ‘high temperature’ soft-compound MICHELIN tyres for the entire race – at a safe distance.

In LM P1-L, Rebellion Racing clinched the Teams’ title after using ‘low temperature’ tyres, like Toyota Racing in LM P1-H.

The GTE Pro class produced an interesting fight between Aston Martin Racing and AF Corse (Ferrari). Despite dominating qualifying, the British team failed to find a strong race pace and, under pressure from Italy’s world champion Gianmaria Bruni, the N°97 Vantage V8 of Briton Darren Turner ran into the N°99 sister car of team-mate Fernando Rees on Lap 1. Rees was able to continue without any apparent damage and managed to engage in a breath-taking duel with the N°51 Ferrari 458 GTE. As the race progressed, however, the Italian team took control and its two cars topped the leaderboard for the last two hours. AF Corse’s one-two finish in Japan has consolidated its lead in the LM GTE Manufacturers’ title chase, while Bruni and Toni Vilander (winners of their class at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours) have increased their margin at the top of the Drivers’ points table.

WEC_AUS14_SP4

Although Aston Martin Racing lost ground to AF Corse Ferrari in the GTE Pro standings, the British team enjoyed absolute domination of the AM class with the N°95 and N°98 Vantage V8s of Poulsen/Heinemeier-Hansson/Thiim and Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard respectively who spent all six hours at the front of the field.

The next round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship will take teams to China for the 6 Hours of Shanghai on November 2.

Goodyear f1 650x85(DSF)


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