Can Ferrari strike back against Toyota at home in Fuji?
The World Endurance Championship shakes off its holiday blues and takes the long trip to Japan this weekend. Home heroes Toyota Gazoo Racing are after home glory. But archrival Ferrari is intent on a little vengeance after being humbled at its home in Monza last time out.
The red cars of course put one over WEC kings Toyota at Le Mans two races back, so will the season of revenge continue in Japan? And where better for Ferrari to hit back than at Toyota’s own racetrack in the shadow of Mount Fuji?
There’s no honour like home honour however, so expect Gazoo Toyota’s championship leaders and Le Mans runners-up Ryo Hirakawa, Sébastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley in the number 8 TS010, and Kamui Kobayashi Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez’s 7 car to be at their very best on Japanese home turf.
Ferrari wants Monza revenge at Fuji
Ferrari won’t take that lying down though. Le Mans winners, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi’s number 50, and teammates Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen in the number 51 499P head to Japan with one thing on their minds. That’s quite simply to beat the home boys at home. Vengeance at its best!
Interestingly the Number 8 Toyota crew leads the title chase by 23 points, with the 8 car and the Le Mans winning number 51 Ferrari tied on points in second. The 50 Ferrari is just seven points further back. Toyota leads the maker’s race by 26 points from Ferrari, with Cadillac third in its own race with LMDh rivals Porsche, and Peugeot
Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn, and Richard Westbrook A will fly Cadillac’s flag at Fuji. The single V-Series.R Hybrid will chase of another LMDh win after its Le Mans success and provide those acoustic V8 thrills in Japan.
Can Porsche challenge overall AT Fuji?
Porsche will want to improve on its first LMDh cars home at Monza status and is taking a fleet of 963 LMDh Hybrids to Fuji. There are two factory Penske entries for Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, and Frédéric Makowiecki’s 5 car an Kévin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor in the number six.
António Félix Da Costa, Will Stevens, and Yifei Ye are back in the 38 Hertz Team Jota car, and Gianmaria Bruni, Harry Tincknell and Neel Jani return aboard Proton Competition’s new number 99 963 Hybrid.
If anyone, Peugeot impressed at Monza last time out. The French Hypercar team will be out to continue with progress in Japan. Regular crew Paul di Resta, Mikkel Jensen and Jean-Éric Vergne will drive the one X8 LMH Hybrid, while Stoffel Vandoorne makes his WEC Hypercar debut in place of the injured Nico Müller, alongside Loic Duval and Gustavo Menezes.
Glickenhaus will miss Fuji, but Floyd Vanwall is making the trip east with Esteban Guerrieri and Tristan Vautier and João Paulo de Oliveira at the wheel.
LM2 fighting to the death. GTE AM is all done
A reasonable field of Oreca Gibson LMP2 cars will continue its swansong WEC season. Robert Kubica, Louis Delétraz and Rui Andrade lead that chase from Le Mans winners Albert Costa, Fabio Scherer and Jakub Smiechowski. Also watch for the likes of Daniil Kvyat, Filipe Albuquerque, Pietro Fittipaldi, Andrea Caldarelli, Louis Delétraz and Oliver Jarvis in that pack.
Ben Keating, Nicolas Varrone and Nicky Catsburg’s lone Le Mans winning Corvette C8.R has of course already wrapped up the LMGTE AM championship. It only needs worry about the race at Fuji but will have the regular gang of Ferrari 488 GTE Evos, Aston Martin Vantage AMRs, and Porsche 911 RSRs to deal with in Japan.
So, will Le Mans winner Ferrari regain Monza revenge over Toyota at Fuji? Being Japan, the 6 Hour weekend kicks off early with practice Friday and Saturday. Qualifying is Saturday 07h40 before the race starts at 04h00 Sunday 9 July.