Three years after its last run in October 2019, the Fuji 6 Hours returns to the calendar with a strong 36-car field and the Hypercar machinery making its first visit to the Toyota-owned venue, with LMP1 cars still in prominence. when the WEC last visited.
Victory that day for the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid driven by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley was the fourth in a row at Fuji for the Japanese manufacturer, who returns in 2022 looking to continue a streak that dates back to 2016.
In fact, Toyota has only been beaten once at Fuji in the current WEC era since 2012, when Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard triumphed for Porsche in 2015. It was also credited with victory in 2013, when heavy rain prevented the race. to start and the result was taken from the ranking.
Another home win for Toyota would be especially welcome in the boardroom as the 2022 WEC season approaches its crucial final stages, with Alpine leading the highest-placed GR010 Hybrid in the points after the French marque’s win at Monza last time.
The second win of the season for Nicolas Lapierre (Fuji winner for Toyota in 2012 and 2013), Andre Negrao and Matthieu Vaxiviere extended their lead in the standings to 10 points over Le Mans 24 Hours winners Hartley, Buemi (also Fuji winner in 2014 and 2017) and Ryo Hirakawa in the #8 Toyota, who finished second in Italy. The #7 Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and José María López remains third in the standings, although 20 points further back.
Monza pole winner Glickenhaus has not made the trip to Japan, but the Hypercar contingent is again buoyed by the presence of Peugeot, making its second race after debuting in Italy with its new 9X8 Le Mans. hypercar.
While the Peugeot Sport team may be new to Fuji, their #94 line-up of Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes and James Rossiter boasts plenty of Japanese pedigree. Duval won at Fuji on his way to the 2009 Formula Nippon crown and won on track in SUPER GT in 2006 and 2007, while Rossiter took his first SUPER GT win at Fuji in 2013. Could his local knowledge pay off? dividends and get Peugeot? off brand?
#94 Peugeot Totalenergies Peugeot 9X8 by Loic Duval, Gustavo Menezes, James Rossiter
Photo by: Paolo Belletti
It is incredibly close in the points race between Ferrari and Porsche in GTE Pro. With just two races to go before the class says goodbye, there is only one point between the leading crews of the respective manufacturers as each try to have the last word before moving to the Hypercar class in 2023.
Finishing third at Monza was enough to move defending champions James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 Ferrari over Gianmaria Bruni’s #92 Porsche in qualifying, while the #91 Porsche brother of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen is just one more point. back in third.
After testing positive for COVID-19 and being replaced at Monza by Fred Makowiecki, Bruni’s regular co-driver Richard Lietz returns to car no. 92 for Fuji, where he and Marc Lieb were victorious over Bruni (then driving for Ferrari) and Giancarlo Fisichella. in 2012.
Corvette Racing took its first win of the 2022 WEC at Monza with a superbly judged fuel economy display by Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner, and the Anglo-American pairing will be hoping to continue their form as the C8.R takes its Japanese bow.
In the GTE Am class, the points race is equally close with just four points separating Aston Martin’s top two contenders. A dramatic crash at Monza for Henrique Chaves in the TF Sport Vantage meant the Le Mans-winning car he shared with Marco Sorensen and Ben Keating failed to collect points in Italy, but the NorthWest AMR machine of Nicki Thiim, David Pittard and Paul Dalla Lana he was unable to make the most of it by finishing eighth.
Aston Martin took GTE Pro (with Thiim/Sorensen) and GTE Am (with TF Sport) honors in 2019, so beware a battle royale of the British cars. Their closest challenge may come from Proton Dempsey Porsche drivers Harry Tincknell, Seb Priaulx and Christian Ried, the only team to win twice so far this year and sit 20 points off the top in third.
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado,
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
In LMP2, the #38 JOTA Oreca crew has the biggest points lead of any class leader with 19 points over its closest rival. Second at Monza after winning their class at Le Mans and finishing third at Spa, the enviable consistency of Antonio Felix da Costa, Will Stevens and Roberto Gonzalez has put them in the driving seat over Oliver Jarvis and Josh Pierson in the #23 United Autosports Oreca. .
But with Realteam by WRT Ferdinand Habsburg, Rui Andrade and Norman Nato winning at Monza, JOTA cannot afford to let their concentration drop. The #41 Realteam sits third in the standings, 27 points below JOTA, close enough to attack in the event of a problem for the points leaders.
Rene Rast will be replaced in the sister WRT by fellow Audi factory driver Dries Vanthoor, who drove a third car for the Belgian outfit at Le Mans, while two-time Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande joins Vector Sport in place of Nico Muller. .
Full schedule of the 2022 Fuji 6 Hours sessions
Friday 9 September 2022
Free Practice 1: 03:00-04:30 BST (11:00-12:30 local time)
Free Practice 2: 07:30-09:00 BST (15:30-17:00 local time)
Saturday 10 September 2022
Free Practice 3: 02:20-03:30 BST (10:20-11:20 local)
Qualifying 1: 0640-0650 BST (1440-1450 local time)
Qualifying 2: 07:00-07:10 BST (15:00-15:10 local time)
Sunday 11 September 2022
Race: 03:00-09:00 BST (11:00-17:00 local time)
Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images
How can I watch the 6 Hours of Fuji?
The 6 Hours of Fuji can be viewed via the Motorsport.tv streaming service, which provides fans with a weekly live racing schedule and on-demand content. A monthly subscription including live WEC coverage, access to the Duke Motorsport archive and the complete exclusive 24 Hours of Le Mans archive costs £4.79 or £39.99 per year.
Fans can download the official WEC app, which gives them English commentary from all sessions, as well as access to live highlights and times. Within the app, a full season package costs £23.99, allowing users to watch the live stream and access exclusive footage from the onboard camera on five devices. For more information, click here.
The race will also be available to watch via the discovery+ streaming service, which costs £6.99 per month or £59.99 per year.
Reports will follow each session on Motorsport.com, with a full analysis of the race available to read on Monday.
Weather Forecast for 6 Hours of Fuji
Hot weather is forecast for the 6 Hours of Fuji, with highs of 29°C on Sunday afternoon, but with the possibility of a thunderstorm which could change strategies.