The two Porsche 919 Hybrids will start from positions two and six on the grid for the seventh round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the Fuji International Speedway in Japan. The reigning world champions, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), have qualified for front row. The current championship leaders, Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE), will start the six-hour race on Sunday from sixth on the grid.
Pole position went to their rivals from Audi: The car number 8 crew was 0.025 seconds faster than the best Porsche. This translates into a distance of less than 1.4 metres.
For Porsche, this year’s mission hots up with the race at the 4.549 kilometre Formula One circuit at the foot of Mount Fuji. Porsche’s target is to defend both titles, for manufacturers as well as for drivers. Mathematically, but only if there were extraordinary circumstances, an early outcome in Japan is possible. The race starts on Sunday at 11:00 hrs (04:00 hrs in central Europe).
In the WEC the average of the respective best laps of two drivers counts for the grid position. Bernhard/Webber (car number 1, position 2, 1:23.595 minutes) and Jani/Lieb (car number 2, position 6, 1:24.134 minutes) were the qualifying drivers in Japan.
In the morning’s third free practice session the two 919 Hybrids came third (car number 2, 1:24.558 Minutes) and sixth (car number 1, 1:25.623 Minutes).
Quotes after qualifying:
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Tight, tighter – Fuji. 25 thousands of a second separate pole position from P2. It was always close but never that close this year. Also in the race we expect excitement and tight competition. According to the forecast it might be a little cooler tomorrow and we would not mind that.