World title for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing after Fuji win
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing earned a thrilling one-two victory on home ground in the 6 Hours of Fuji to clinch the manufacturers’ title in the penultimate race of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season.
In front of a record 54,700 crowd, Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa completed a perfect result by taking second place in their #8 GR010 HYBRID, finishing just 39.119secs behind.
A one-two victory after locking out the front row in qualifying does not reflect the full story of an incredibly close race at the front, which saw the GR010 HYBRIDs battling through the field and only taking the lead in the fifth hour.
At the start, Sébastien fell to sixth he was being hit by the #50 Ferrari at a chaotic turn one. When racing resumed after a first-lap safety car, Sébastien overtook the #2 Cadillac for fifth. The pressure at the front increased after the first driver changes, which came around the two-hour mark. José immediately set the fastest lap of the race and closed to within striking distance of the #6 Porsche during a charging stint, with Ryo also closing the gap in the third-placed #8.
A few minutes later, the final driver changes saw Brendon take over in the lead, with Kamui a close second. Kamui was the fastest car on track and soon took the lead, stretching his advantage as Brendon fended off brief pressure from the #6 Porsche into the final hour of the race.
Kamui controlled the final stages and took the chequered flag after 229 laps to earn TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s ninth win in 10 races at Fuji Speedway and extend the team’s unbeaten streak which stretches back to 2016. Brendon crossed the line in second for the #8 crew.
“It’s a perfect team result, everyone did a great job and now we can enjoy winning the manufacturers’ World Championship. It was such a tight race; I am sure the fans will have enjoyed that. Our car lost position at the start and then we lost time coming through the other Hypercars, so we decided to save a bit of fuel. Then Ryo had a very strong stint to put us back in contention, but it was an amazing race from car #7, congratulations to them.” Sébastien BUEMI
The WEC season will conclude with the 8 Hours of Bahrain on 4 November.