Despite yet another success, Toyota had to work hard to win because the start was chaotic. The Toyotas, who had locked the first row, were surprised at the start by the No. 6 Porsche 963 of Laurens Vanthoor, who took the lead but veered very wide at the first corner after very optimistic braking. Also behind, the Cadillac braked at the sign too late and also took the other Toyota far out wide, thus allowing the Ferraris to pass! Porsche and Ferrari, although in the background, held up at the start.
Porsche in good shape
If the Toyotas quickly activated the “remontada” mode, first to get rid of the Ferraris, it was only around the 5th hour of the race that the Japanese hypercars managed to get rid of the Porsche 963 n °6, also driven by Frenchman Kevin Estre. Porsche, which thus completes the podium, was the pleasant surprise of this race, the LMDh 963 being in the fight for victory for a large part of the race and having led the most laps. The #6 Porsche finished only 8 seconds behind the second Toyota. But once again, in terms of tactical management and tire management over long stints, Toyota made the difference. In the duel for victory, the Conway-Kobayashi-López team in the #7 finally had the last word, taking advantage of the problems encountered in the last hour by the sister car #8.
The big losers at Fuji are Ferrari. After the victory at Le Mans and the close fight at Monza, Ferrari knew that the game would be more complicated on the winding Fuji track where the 499P suffers from tire wear (definitely, like the SF23 in F1). The two red cars took advantage of the cacophony at the start to position themselves well, but then they gave up, fighting among themselves but far from the Toyotas, who stuck a turn in their sight. The Ferraris are 4th and 5th all the same.
Peugeot has also returned to the ranks, after the hopes of Monza. The 9X8 is more comfortable on fast tracks, and Fuji has highlighted its weaknesses, especially in the twisty sector 3. As usual, the pace in the race is more encouraging than the pure speed over a lap, but we have to be content with 7th and 8th places for the lionesses, who fought well with the only Cadillac in the race, the latter then having was delayed and penalized by a wandering wheel.
In LMP2, Team WRT took victory with the #41 Oreca of Kubica-Andrade-Deletraz, which took an important step in the quest for the title, while in LMGTE Am it was Ferrari AF Corse which took triumphed with the trio Flohr-Castellacci-Rigon, knowing that Corvette is already titled in the category.
In the Hypercars drivers championship, which will be played in Bahrain, the Buemi-Hartley-Hirakawa trio comes first with 133 points, against 118 for the rival trio Kobayashi-Conway-Lopez, faster on paper (4 victory to 1) but who paid dearly for their retirement at Le Mans. With 102 and 97 points, the Ferrari crews can no longer claim the crown.