Big WEC Grid Promises Lots of Drama in Japan | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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Big WEC Grid Promises Lots of Drama in Japan

On Sunday 11 October Fuji International Speedway in Japan will host round 6 of the 2015 World Endurance Championship, the first of two 6-hour races in Asia. It will be the fourth consecutive time that the WEC has visited the famous track in the shadow of Mount Fuji
WEC 6 Hours of Fuji

In total 31 cars, representing 10 different nations, and 86 drivers, from 19 countries across the globe, will be competing in Japan.  The grid will include the two-car entry by reigning World Champions Toyota Gazoo Racing, with local hero Kazuki Nakajima in the No1 Toyota TS040 HYBRID racing with current World Driver Champions Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi.  Toyota are unbeaten at Fuji having won all three races since 2012. 

The top LMP1 class will feature 9 cars and 26 drivers, with manufacturers Audi and Porsche each fielding a pair of entries alongside Toyota.  After winning the last three rounds of the Championship in Texas (USA), Nürburgring (Germany) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France), Porsche will be the team to beat in Japan and currently holds a 36-point lead over Audi in the World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship. 

The crew of the No17 919 Hybrid, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, took their first win for Porsche in Germany and then followed it up with another victory last weekend at Circuit of The Americas in the USA.  Thanks to a hard-fought second place finish in Texas, Audi’s Benoît Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler still lead the World Drivers’ Championship, with Webber, Hartley and Bernhard trailing by just 10-points.

Porsche’s No18 crew of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb have taken three pole positions at the last three rounds and are currently in third place in the world title race just ahead of Audi’s Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis.  

Reigning World Champion Toyota has been trailing the two German manufacturers in 2015 but is hoping that home advantage will see a change in its fortunes.  Mike Conway, Alex Wurz and Stéphane Sarrazin form the crew of the No2 TS040 HYBRID.

The LMP1 grid is completed by the privateer teams Bykolles and Rebellion Racing.  The No4 Team Bykolles CLM-AER of Simon Trummer and Pierre Kaffer has won the last two races in Germany and the USA and will once again face the challenge of the pair of Rebellion Racing R-Ones in Japan.  In the No12 Rebellion Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche will be paired at Fuji, racing without the presence of Nick Heidfeld for the first time in 2015. 

LMP2 will once again features eight entries, including two for Russia’s G-Drive Racing, two for US team Extreme Speed Motorsport, one for reigning European Le Mans Series champion Signatech Alpine, Britain’s Strakka Racing, Swiss team SARD Morand and one for Hong Kong-based KCMG. 

In Texas the No26 G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan of Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal won for the second time in the 2015 season, marking the 10th victory for the Russian team in the WEC.  The driver line ups for the eight entries are largely unchanged with two exceptions.  Winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June with Porsche, Nick Tandy rejoins the KCMG driver crew alongside Richard Bradley and Matt Howson in the LMP2 championship-leading car.  Canadian Christopher Cumming makes his WEC debut in the No43 Team SARD Morand-Morgan alongside regular drivers Pierre Ragues and Oliver Webb.

Once again there are seven entries in LMGTE Pro, with two each for Ferrari and Porsche and three for Aston Martin.

After another strong showing in Texas with a 1-2 finish, Porsche Team Manthey is the team to beat in the Pro category.  In the World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers Porsche is just two points behind world champion Ferrari, with Porsche’s Richard Lietz holding an 11-point advantage over Ferrari duo Davide Rigon and James Calado in the GT Drivers’ title chase.  Ferrari has not won a race since the opening round of the season at Silverstone, and the Italians will be working hard to return to the top step of the podium in Japan.

The No99 Aston Martin Vantage has taken three pole positions and one win in the first five races of 2015, and in Japan Fernando Rees and Alex MacDowall will be supported by long-time Aston Martin driver Stefan Mücke, the German switching from the No97 Vantage he normally shares with Darren Turner.  Turner will be joined once again by newly crowned British GT Champion Jonny Adam.

The seven car LMGTE Am grid features four manufacturers - Aston Martin, Porsche, Ferrari and Chevrolet.  Russia’s SMP Racing took its third straight win in Texas to lead the driver and team championships by 35-points with three races remaining on the calendar.  Aleksey Basov, Victor Shaytar and Andrea Bertolini are currently on 131-points, with the crew of the No83 AF Corse Ferrari, Rui Aguas, Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo, currently in second.

There are two changes in the driver line ups from the last round in the USA.  The race in Fuji marks the debut in the WEC of Britain’s Liam Griffin, a driver in British GT with Aston Martin in recent years.  He will be joining Stuart Hall and Francesco Castellacci in the No96 Aston Martin Racing Vantage.  Kristian Poulsen will also be missing from the driver line up in the nr50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette, his place being taken by fellow Dane Nicolai Sylvest.

The 6 Hours of Fuji will take place on Sunday 11 October and is round 6 of the eight round 2015 World Endurance Championship.

A full provisional entry list for the 6 Hours of Fuji is available to download here.