Fuji Thursday Notebook – Sportscar365

Photo: Jose Bispo

***The FIA ​​World Endurance Championship returns to Fuji Speedway this weekend for the first time since 2019. A visit to Japan was planned for last season, but the coronavirus pandemic led the WEC to cancel the event and replace it with a second race in Bahrain. .

***All GTE-Am cars will run on last year’s tire specification following a request from Michelin to the WEC. Michelin’s request, dated August 25, said that “due to a significant disturbance in the production plants of Groupe Michelin, Michelin has no choice but to supply the entire GTE-Am category with the 2021 specification for the 6 Hours. of Fuji”.

***Team Project 1 was not penalized for its late driver change after Brendan Iribe got out of the No. 56 Porsche 911 RSR-19 on short notice. According to the delegates’ report, the American was in close contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. Previously, a member of the Inception Racing program that Iribe funds described it as a “family affair.”

***Renger van der Zande said it feels “incredible” to race to Japan and highlighted the passion of the home fans. “A guy chased me at the airport to sign a box full of car models he drove,” the Dutchman told Sportscar365 ahead of his WEC appearance with Vector Sport. “I was waiting for all the WEC people. I can’t wait to see the races here.”

***Peugeot’s sports car racing program is competing in Japan for the first time in 30 years. His last appearance in Japan came in the 1992 Suzuka 1000km, which was won by Derek Warwick and Yannick Dalmas sharing the Peugeot 905 that won that year’s World Sports Car Championship title. The LMP1 generation Peugeot 908 never raced in Japan, with all of its Asian outings taking place in China. .

***Toyota will make a decision on whether to enact team orders between its cars “depending on the circumstances” during the race, according to technical director Pascal Vasselon. The No. 8 crew is second in the championship, 20 points ahead of their teammates in the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid. “We never plan ahead; we decided during the race”, said Vasselon. “You can have so many different circumstances that you can’t anticipate them.”

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***Vasselon added that Fuji plays with the characteristics of the lighter Alpine LMP1 car, rather than the LMH machinery of Toyota and Peugeot. “With the LMH cars, we’re all in the same ballpark and performance profile,” he said. “The devil will be in the details. It is difficult to know if a car will be suitable or not. The Alpine is very different and this track layout where sectors two and three are heavily influenced by downforce. It is clearly a circuit that favors Alpino”.

***Prema team principal René Rosin described his team’s recent European Le Mans Series victory in Barcelona as a “catalyst and motivator” for the WEC sister programme, which is yet to record a victory in its debut season. Prema leads the ELMS standings having won three races so far, but sits fourth in the WEC after four events.

***Vector Sport and GR Racing are located in a separate garage block compared to the rest of the field. The two British teams are positioned closer to the pit exit. Vector and GR have submitted a joint entry for the upcoming Le Mans Virtual Series and have been co-arranging some aspects of their logistics this season.

***The WRT team competes at Fuji for the first time as an LMP2 team, however its predecessor DTM program competed at the venue in 2019 for the joint DTM-Super GT ‘Dream Race’. “We had a pretty good result with Ben Treluyer,” said team principal Vincent Vosse. “He came a little bit out of nowhere and we were fighting at the top. We don’t want to come from nothing now, but we just have to put it all together.”

*** Vosse hopes WRT can help with some of BMW’s LMDh tests later this year. “Obviously we will be involved in testing starting in 2023,” he said. “But to get to know the car and to be involved, and to be aware of issues or whatever, it will be nice to be part of some testing this year. But this is not something that is fixed or that is in my hands.”

***A group of schoolchildren from Senpukugaoka Elementary School spent the day at Fuji Speedway and met several WEC drivers during their visit.

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***Toyota drivers prepared for the manufacturer’s home race by trying out the popular traditional Japanese board game ‘shogi’ along with some professional players.

***The Toyota lineup was also in attendance at last weekend’s Motegi Super Taikyu 5 Hours round, where they took part in a fun time trial with Toyota President Akio Toyoda. The laps were done in a hydrogen-powered Corolla and a GRMN Yaris.

***Nearly 50 drivers will compete at Fuji for the first time this weekend. Only two of the drivers competing, Porsche stalwarts Richard Lietz and Christian Ried, have appeared in all eight Fuji WEC races to date.

***A preliminary list of 40 teams entered for the next season of the Le Mans Virtual Series has been published. Notable entrants include Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, BMW, and Ferrari, as well as several high-profile sim racing teams. Also present is a Vanwall badged entrance from the builder of LMH ByKolles. ByKolles has been trying to get a Vanwall-badged LMH car onto the real-world WEC grid.

***Driver line-ups for the 2022-23 Le Mans Virtual Series will be revealed on Monday. A further 10 entries are expected to join for the Virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans on January 14-15.

***The WEC’s last visit to Fuji did not include any support series, however this time touring cars and single-seaters are on the card. TCR Japan has two races on the lineup, while the Formula One Japanese Regional Championship is staging a three-headed round.

*** A recent update to the FIA ​​WTCR calendar confirmed that the world touring car series will support the 8 Hours of Bahrain which ends the WEC season in November. Race 1 will take place on Friday, while Race 2 will take place on the morning of the WEC race on Saturday.

***Scrutineering for the 6 Hours of Fuji took place on Thursday from 9am to 7pm. On-track action kicks off on Friday with an opening 90-minute free practice session from 11am ( 10 p.m. Thursday ET). Free Practice 2 takes place at 3:30 pm (2:30 am ET).

daniel lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, which covers the FIA ​​World Endurance Championship, AWS-powered Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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