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Gazoo Racing closes on WEC title with Fuji 1-2

Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez number 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid led Brendon Hartley, Ryo Hirakawa, and Sebastien Buemi sister car to its ninth home Fuji World Endurance success in ten starts on Sunday.

The two Toyotas held off a concerted effort by Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer, as Porsche finally took a WEC podium after leading the way for more than two thirds of the six-hour race

The Porsche ended a lap clear of a disappointing result for Ferrari a lap down in fourth and fifth. Jota Porsche crew of Antonio Felix da Costa, Will Stevens and Yifei Ye ended up sixth despite an early collision with its LMP2 teammate that earned the Porsche a drive-through penalty.


Porsche stars Ferrari, Peugeot & Cadillac struggle

Like Ferrari, Peugeot had a race to forget with Gustavo Menezes, Loic Duval and Stoffel Vandoorne seventh and Jean-Eric Vergne, Mikkel Jensen and Paul di Resta eighth. The new Proton Porsche ended ninth after several pitstops due to a seatbelt issue and the Cadillac suffered a litany of issues to finish 10th in Hypercar ahead of the Vanwall and the similarly delayed second Penske Porsche.

Vanthoor’s Porsche jumped into the lead at the start ahead of Miguel Molina’s Ferrari making as the slow starting Toyotas dropped to third and sixth off the front row. They sandwiched James Calado in the second Ferrari and Alex Lynn in the Cadillac. An early safety car intervened to remove a stopped GT Ferrari before Vanthoor led off the restart as Conway failed in an attempt on second to allow the Ferrari of Calado through to third.

Conway and Buemi’s Toyota soon took care of the Ferraris, but Vanthoor opened his lead in to sixteen seconds when Kevin Estre took the Porsche over at the two hour mark. Toyota’s Lopez then turned the tables on the lead Porsche but locked up to allow teammate Hirakawa up to second. Hirakawa soon closed the Porsche down and made his move just on the four-hour mark.


Toyota closes on 2023 WEC title

The second Toyota also passed the Porsche through the following pit cycle to leave Hartley leading Kobayashi, but the team boss was having none of it and soon seized the lead from his teammate and went on to take a comfortable win. That sees the points gap between the down to 15 points between two Toyota crews in the WEC drivers’ standings with only the Bahrain season finale to race.

Elsewhere ,WRT trio Robert Kubica, Louis Deletraz and Rui Andrade closed in on the swansong LMP2 title with victory from United Autosports trio Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque and Frederick Lubin, and ART teammates Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Sean Gelael.

Davide Rigon, Francesco Castellaci and Thomas Flohr took GTE Am honours in AF Corse’s Ferrari 488 GTE from Ritomo Miyata, Takeshi Kimura and Scott Huffaker’s similar Kessel car and champions Ben Keating, Nicky Catsburg and Nicolas Varrone’s Corvette. The 2023 World Endurance Championship wraps up with the 8 Hours of Bahrain on 4 November.

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