WIN AND DOUBLE PODIUM AT FUJI EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD FOR TEAM WRT

WIN AND DOUBLE PODIUM AT FUJI EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD FOR TEAM WRT

10/09/2023

Team WRT brilliantly took its second LMP2 win of the year at the 6 Hours of Fuji, signing a double podium finish. Rui Andrade, Louis Delétraz and Robert Kubica brought car #41 to victory, the second after Spa’s, with Robin Frijns, Sean Gelael and Ferdinand Habsburg taking third.

With this solid result, Team WRT and the trio of car #41 extend their lead in the LMP2 championship. They now have a 33 point lead going into the final round of the season, the 8 Hours of Bahrain, which will has the potential to award the maximum of 39 points.

Team WRT Principal Vincent Vosse was clearly satisfied at the end of the Japanese weekend: “After some challenging outings with our GT3 program, it’s really nice to live a positive weekend such as this. There is little to say, it was simply a perfect weekend by everybody in the team. The drivers have been outstanding, the crews made faultless pit stops and the strategy was the right one. We go away with a double podium finish and strengthened lead in the championship ahead of the final round. It is also very rewarding to sign our third success in Japan, this wonderful country so fond of motorsports, after our last year win, also in the WEC, and the 10h of Suzuka in 2019.”

The three free practice sessions that opened the weekend were marked by changing weather, with alternating humid and drying track conditions. This saw the Oreca 07 Gibsons of Team WRT quite often among the front-runners, with car #41 topping the rankings in the second session. In qualifying, that same car took second, with Louis Delétraz a mere 0.091s shy from the pole position, while car #31 qualified seventh.

At the start, Rui Andrade in #41 and #31’s Sean Gelael were second and fourth before the first corner drama among Hypercars and a trip to the gravel for a GTE Ferarri forced the safety car out. At the restart, Gelael took third and Andrade sixth, with the latter climbing up to fourth after the first pit stop. Those positions remained stable, when Robert Kubica and Ferdinand Habsburg took over the wheel and the race became a duel between Team WRT and United Autosports.

The mid-race mark was reached and passed with no major changes, but car #31 eventually took the lead at the beginning of the fifth hour, with Louis Delétraz at the wheel, while Robin Frijns was a close fourth in car #31.

In the final hour, thanks to a perfect strategy, car #41 secured the win while a very inspired Robin Frijns managed to reach the 2nd position over Albuquerque few laps from the end. But caught in heavy traffic he was passed again in the final lap, taking third at the flag.

Louis Delétraz: “A very good race, we won! The team did a strong job in the pits, and we did a clean job on the track. I tried to save fuel, this worked and allowed us to take the lead in the pits. It’s not sealed for the championship, we still have to finish the job and we know since Le Mans 2021, it is never done until it’s done, but we are in a better position than expected ahead of the last race.”

Rui Andrade: “I am really happy, it was an amazing job by the team and we just missed a one-two. We extended our lead in the championship and are in a more comfortable situation. The car has been strong all year, so it’s looking good. Now it’s time to enjoy the moment, take some rest and focus on Bahrain.”

Robert Kubica: “It went well, we spent a nice afternoon going around the Fuji circuit! It wasn’t an easy weekend with the changing conditions, but today we took the right decisions, we executed well, we managed to come back and to win. It is important to stay in front of our main rivals, and we are in a good position ahead of Bahrain. I am happy to continue the string of podium finishes in such a competitive field. This highlights the quality of the work and the approach.”

Ferdinand Habsburg: “It was a nice weekend here in Japan and I enjoyed it. It’s nice to be on the podium for the first time this year, I think it is deserved, and nice to be there with our sister car teammates. It was dry for the race, and we could give our best. Now let’s try to win the last race.”

Robin Frijns: “A difficult race, I think, but it’s nice to get our first point. It was a bit unfortunate in the final duel, it would have been nice to score a one-two, but one-three is also good. We had some tyre issues in the first two stints but we came back, and it wasn’t a bad day.”

Sean Gelael: “At last a podium after a long dry spell. We take it even if obviously we always want the top step, but I am happy for the team and for car #41, their championship lead is bigger. On my side, I had a good start, I was happy to give the car in P3 and hopefully we keep this momentum and win the last race.”

FIA World Endurance Championship – Round 6
6 Hours of Fuji, Japan – 8-10 September 2023

Race Result (LMP2)

1. Andrade-Delétraz-Kubica (Oreca 07 Gibson) 219 laps

2. Albuquerque-Hanson-Lubin (Oreca 07 Gibson) +1 lap

3. Frijns-Gelael-Habsburg (Oreca 07 Gibson) + 1 lap

4. Jarvis-Pierson-Hanley (Oreca 07 Gibson) + 1 lap

5. Vaxivière-Canal-Milesi (Oreca 07 Gibson) + 1 lap

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