The Maranello marque dominated the 6 Hours of Fuji, round five of the FIA World Endurance Championship. In the LMGTE Pro class, Ferrari claimed a one-two crucial for the world championship, with the Italian cars always in the top positions. The number 51 Ferrari 488 GTE with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi was first over the finish line, ahead of the other AF Corse car, number 52, crewed by Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina. In the LMGTE Am class, second place for the Iron Dames embellished the penultimate round of the world championship. The all-female crew of Rahel Frey, Sarah Bovy, and Michelle Gatting were making their debut on the Japanese track.
LMGTE Pro. The Ferraris starred on the track on the slopes of Mount Fuji, holding the top positions throughout the event. This was due to excellent tyre management, the Italo-Spanish crew’s team spirit as they aimed to maximise the haul of championship points, and the efficiency of the V8 engine, with its excellent fuel management avoiding a short stop in the closing stages. Starting from second place, Calado took the lead during lap one, while Molina in the sister car was second at the end of the first hour. The number 51 and 52 488 GTEs thus began their control, managing their advantage over the number 92 Porsche, which they retained even after the driver change stops before Pier Guidi and Fuoco’s stints. In the final part, having completed 171 laps, Pier Guidi slowed his lap times, allowing his young teammate to move into first. With just over an hour to go, Calado retook the wheel and racked up some benchmark lap times, making the most of the fresh tyres. He was helped by the professionalism of his teammates in the second car, who gave way to the Briton, allowing him to put valuable points on the board. The crews celebrated a historic one-two at the chequered flag, with the Briton ahead of Fuoco by 0.284 seconds. The result gives the Anglo-Italian duo a twelve-point lead over their rivals Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, while the Italo-Spanish pair trail by twenty-seven points. Ferrari moved into the lead in the Constructors’ standings with 216 points ahead of the Sakhir round, which, being a longer eight-hour race, offers a bigger points haul. The reigning champions clinched their second win of the season, following that at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, celebrating on the Fuji podium as they did in 2017, a year that ended with the world title win.
LMGTE Am. The Iron Dames confirmed their competitiveness. The women set off from the front row on their debut at the Japanese circuit and celebrated by crossing the finish line runners-up, equalling the result achieved at the last round in Monza. Sarah Bovy, at the wheel in the first stint, Rahel Frey and Ferrari Challenge Champion Michelle Gatting drove a remarkably consistent race also marked by some outstanding overtaking, such as the Swiss driver’s pass on lap 102 against Thiim’s Aston Martin. Fourth position went to AF Corse’s number 54, crewed by Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Davide Rigon, while the Spirit of Race drivers Franck Dezoteux, Pierre Ragues and Gabriel Aubry finished seventh. AF Corse’s number 21 car took tenth place with drivers Simon Mann, Christoph Ulrich and Toni Vilander, ahead of Iron Lynx’s Ferrari 488 GTE with Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Appointments. The World Endurance Championship will be back in the spotlight with the season’s last event at the 8 Hours of Bahrain on the weekend of 12-13 November.