Image Credit: Drew Gibson / Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Whilst the race up and down the field was run at a frenetic pace, the GTE categories were settled as per our preview.
Relatively early on in GTE-Pro the newer 2016 generation cars from Ford and Ferrari achieving strong straight-line performance, coupled with superior downforce through the fast flowing corners of Fuji. As suggested the circuit suited the focus of the Ford GT on Le Mans and they sealed the European based team’s first WEC victory for #67 the ‘Brit Pack’ car of Priaulx/Tincknell. Further joy came with a second for the 66 Mucke/Pla, although Pla had a late over-rotation almost catching the #1 Porsche on his return to the track.
Like Noah’s Ark, the two Ferrari’s came home next #51 Bruni/Calado taking the 3rd podium step from team-mates #71 Bird/Rigon, these two cars keeping each other very honest even at one point having a little love tap. The Aston Martin team had to be satisfied with 5th and 6th having been served with another BoP adjustment following success at both Mexico and Circuit of the Americas (CotA).
The GTE-Pro Teams Championship tightens up considerably, with Ford mounting a late charge. The #95 AMR squad lead by just 10pts on 119 from #71 AF Corse (109pts), and then both Ford GTs on 103pts!
Better news for Aston Martin Racing in the GTE-Am category with #98 of Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda continuing to enjoy their return to Michelin rubber securing maximum points. They were assisted by a pit lane speeding penalty for the #83 squad and finished a lap clear, though by finishing second the AF Corse team minimise the impact.
The #98 AMR squad’s pursuit of Championship Leaders #83 AF Corse Perrodo/Collard/Aguas will continue in Shanghai, but they will need a DNF from the Ferrari 458 squad to get on terms.
3rd place in GTE-Am went to the ‘local’ Hong Kong entry of KCMG Porsche RSR #78 of Reid/Henzler/Camathias, when 60laps from home the Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C7 ran into mechanical trouble and headed to its garage.
Brief Race Highlights available Here