The second stage of Goodyear’s comeback was the 6 Hours of Fuji, Japan’s round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). A strong performance across the weekend resulted in two Goodyear cars on the podium, building on the first WEC pole position for the tyre manufacturer.
Goodyear tyres were chosen by three teams (Jota Sport, Jackie Chan DC Racing and High Class Racing). They all race in the LMP2 class, which is the only WEC category to feature a battle between tyre manufacturers. The trio of teams, all running similar Oreca chassis, all had front-running moments during the weekend.
After two practice sessions on Friday, topped by Jota Sport and High Class Racing, it was Jackie Chan DC Racing who took pole position on Saturday. Gabriel Aubry and Ho-Pin Tung set an average time of 1:29.302 with Tung taking the overall quickest lap of a 1:29.175. Having three sessions led by Goodyear equipped cars, it sent a strong signal in the second race of the comeback season.
High Class start for local hero
2016 Japanese Formula 3 champion Kenta Yamashita brought local experience to the High Class Racing team. He was part of the lead battle for the first hour, before relinquishing the car in second place when handing over to Anders Fjordbach. The Dane reeled in the leader to head the pack at the two-hour mark.
Jackie Chan DC Racing were never far behind, and a lap later Will Stevens followed Fjordbach through to take second place. Jota Sport lost their pole advantage in the opening scrap, but recovered to fourth by half distance after a relentless stint from Antonio Felix da Costa.
An intense Fjordbach versus Stevens fight was the main feature of the third hour. It also marked the first time Goodyear-equipped cars had run first and second in a Japanese World Championship race since Michael Schumacher battled with Jacques Villeneuve in the F1 Grand Prix in 1997.
Soon after, a Full Course Yellow period and pitstops left High Class, Jackie Chan and Jota in top four positions with two hours left to chase down the leader. Yamashita and Ho-Pin Tung assertively put the High Class and Jackie Chan cars at the top of the leaderboard soon after racing restarted. This period coincided with a brief appearance of the characteristic Fuji rain showers, but Goodyear’s latest slick compound was retaining the heat in drizzly conditions, giving the drivers the confidence to push hard.
Into a dry final hour, the High Class car dropped down the order, leaving the Jota Sport and Jackie Chan entries in the top three. The relentless comeback of the Jota Sport Oreca meant Anthony Davidson was able to secure second place, with Tung completing the podium positions.
Ben Crawley, Director, Goodyear Racing praised all three teams: “Jota’s pole position and strong second place marked a major step in our comeback season. Both Jackie Chan DC Racing and High Class were able to lead the race convincingly. Thank you to all three teams for choosing Goodyear. We learned a lot from our first WEC visit to Fuji and this will help us make progress as we head to China next month.”
The FIA World Endurance Championship 4 Hours of Shanghai takes place on November 10th.
PR by Reeves Public Relations agency in Birmingham and Newcastle