WEC – Ferrari leaves Fuji with a bitter taste in its mouth
Ferrari left Japan after the 6 Hours of Fuji with a bitter taste in its mouth. A puncture marred the race of car no. 51 less than an hour in, while a contact with the LMP2 class car no. 31 ruined the day for Sam Bird and Davide Rigon who were comfortably ahead with less than two hours to go. In the end, the 488 no. 51 took fourth place and no. 71 tenth.
GTE-Pro. The two Ferraris, setting off from the third row, enjoyed contrasting starts: James Calado in no. 51 began superbly in the wet, easily overtaking no. 67 Ford to take fourth behind the no. 82 BMW and the two Aston Martin cars. The opposite happened to Davide Rigon, in no. 71, who slipped several positions to ninth, also due to a slight contact, and had to fight back from there. Calado suffered a puncture before the first hour was up. He managed to return to the pits and change to slicks, but just at that moment an accident involving no. 70 Ferrari of Motoaki Ishikawa obliged the Race Direction to deploy the Safety Car, confining the no. 51 car to the pitlane. This cost Calado a lap. Shortly afterwards, James was soon able to be again on the lead lap and to start a furious comeback. Towards the end Alessandro Pier Guidi handed over once more to Calado who again did very well to recover to fourth position, overtaking the Porsche no. 91 of Gianmaria Bruni with less than half an hour to go. In car no. 71 Davide Rigon made way for Sam Bird who, in an exceptional double stint, overtook the no. 92 Porsche of Michael Christensen, the no. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx and the no. 82 BMW of Tom Blomqvist, to move into first. The no. 71 488 GTE looked set for its first win of the season, when just over an hour from the end it was involved in an accident with the no. 31 LMP2 class car that cost it four laps in the pits for repairing. Rigon then drove the Ferrari to 10th place in the class to collect at least a point.
GTE-Am. The GTE-Am class saw the Ferraris shine at times, but succumb to their rivals towards the end. The no. 70 488 GTE of MR Racing, as mentioned, exited the scene almost immediately after its rear right tyre exploded, while both the no. 54 of Spirit of Race and no. 61 of Clearwater Racing led the race before dropping back in the final part of the 6 hours. In the end the Spirit of Race car, with Fisichella-Castellacci-Flohr, came sixth ahead of Clearwater Racing’s 488 GTE (Griffin-Sawa-Mok). This car was penalised with a drive-through for having caused a collision with one of the Fords. Overall victory went to the Toyota of Kobayashi-Lopez-Conway. The next race is on 18 November in Shanghai.