TOYOTA GAZOO Racing achieved a perfect one-two victory in the 6 Hours of Fuji to celebrate the return of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to Japan in impressive style.
Fuji Speedway hosted WEC for the first time since 2019 and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing strengthened its World Championship challenge and celebrated a memorable homecoming by winning on the GR010 HYBRID Hypercar’s Japanese debut.
Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa delivered a flawless performance in the #8 GR010 HYBRID to earn their second victory of the season, adding to their Le Mans 24 Hours triumph and delivering the team’s eighth win in nine races at Fuji Speedway.
World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez took second place in their #7 GR010 HYBRID, 1min 8.382secs behind, to complete a hard-earned clean sweep in the penultimate round of the 2022 WEC season.
Maximum points from its home race brings TOYOTA GAZOO Racing a big step closer to retaining its manufacturers’ World Championship, extending its lead to 26 over Alpine, who finished third at Fuji while the #8 crew are now level on points at the top of the drivers’ standings heading into the final race.
Another enthusiastic crowd packed the Fuji Speedway grandstands and saw Kamui in the pole position #7 lead the field away on a hot, sunny day. Kamui established a slender gap over Sebastien in the #8 as the GR010 HYBRIDs set the tone for the race by leading the way from the beginning.
Just a few seconds separated the two during the first hour, which ended with both pitting for two new tyres and more fuel. Kamui retained the lead in the #7 but Sebastien was gradually closing the gap and moved into the lead on lap 64.
As the two-hour mark approached, Kamui handed over the second-placed #7 to Jose. A lap later, Brendon took the wheel of the #8 and resumed with a 6secs lead, with the third-placed Alpine over 50secs behind.
Brendon began to build a comfortable margin at the front and extended his advantage over Jose to 10secs at next pit stops, which came at half distance. By the time of the next driver changes, with just under two hours remaining, Brendon had a decisive 30-second lead.
Ryo, already a winner at Fuji Speedway this season in Super Formula, took the wheel of the #8 as Mike replaced Jose in the #7 for the final stretch. With a one-lap advantage over the third-placed Alpine, the GR010 HYBRIDs controlled the remainder of the race, taking no unnecessary risks.
After 232 laps without safety car or full course yellow, Ryo took the chequered flag to secure TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s third victory of the season, its 37th from 75 hybrid-powered WEC races since 2012. Mike followed 1min 8.382secs later, completing the team’s second one-two of the season.
The fight for both World Championships therefore goes to the final race of the season, when Bahrain International Circuit hosts an eight-hour title decider on 12 November.
6 Hours of Fuji – Result:
1st #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 232 laps
2nd #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +1min 8.382secs
3rd #36 Alpine Elf Team (Negrao/Lapierre/Vaxiviere) +2 laps
4th #93 Peugeot TotalEnergies (Di Resta/Jensen/Vergne) +7 laps
5th #31 WRT (Galael/Frijns/Vanthoor) +7 laps
6th #38 JOTA (Gonzalez/Da Costa/Stevens) +8 laps
For more information, visit https://toyotagazooracing.com/wec/release/2022/rd05-race/.
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