Race Report LMGTE : Porsche and Corvette reign supreme
The 50,000 strong Japanese crowd were as appreciative of the GTE classes as they were of the LMP categories with support for teams and drivers clearly visible in the packed spectator areas and plenty of interest during the pitwalk and autograph sessions.
In LMGTE Pro, the No.77 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche maintained its supreme form at Fuji Speedway and took its second victory of the year, the first being way back in May at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps WEC.
The German-Austrian duo of Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz were quickest in every session to be held this week, and led the race away from pole position. They were beaten off the start line by the No.51 Ferrari but, once the Porsche regained its place at the top of the time sheets in the second hour, it held onto it until the chequered flag and stretched out a lead of a whole lap, even surviving contact with the No.2 Audi R18 and subsequent handling problems.
Richard Leitz: “That was a perfect weekend for us. From the very first day we were the fastest and could maintain our pace over the entire race distance. This is a wonderful success for the whole team.”
Marc Lieb: “This second win of the season is entirely of our own doing, without rain and without having benefited from a safety car phase. We were able to utilise the full potential of the 911 GT3 RSR on this track. The conditions were exactly what we had hoped for.”
Second in class were 2012 FIA Endurance Trophy and LMGTE World Cup winners, AF Corse, with the No.51 Ferrari 458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella. After a race-long battle with the No.98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8, there was just 39 seconds between the Italian and British marques after six hours of hard racing, although the outcome might have been different if the No.97 Aston had not been slightly delayed by contact from the No.1 Audi.
Larbre Compétition’s No.50 Corvette C6-ZR1 had a superb race and finished a clear lap ahead of the No.57 Ferrari 458 Italia. Pedro Lamy, Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal made a good start and took the lead in the second hour from their No.70 Corvette team mates and the No.88 Team Felbermayr –Proton Porsche 911 RSR.
The American Krohn Racing team fulfilled its wish of climbing onto a higher step of the LMGTE Am podium by recording their best result of the season, its second place thanks to a consistent performance and superior fuel economy. Team Felbermayr-Proton’s Porsche overcame an early stop/go penalty for making a jump-start and rounded off an excellent day for the German team by taking the third place on the podium in this category.