The FIA World Endurance Championship WEC is currently one of the most exciting series in motorsport: Audi drivers Marcel Fässler/André Lotterer/Benoît Tréluyer (CH/D/F) start the sixth round of the season in Japan on October 11 with a ten-point advantage. Two other events follow before the end of November. The title race in the sports car series remains open.
The championship leaders from Audi continued their series of podium finishes in September. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer have mounted the podium at every race since April 2015, and took two race wins at the beginning of the season. No other LMP1 driver squad has taken five consecutive podium finishes. Most recently, start number ‘7’ clinched second place in Austin ahead of the sister car driven by Lucas di Grassi/Loïc Duval/Oliver Jarvis (BR/F/GB). “Our World Champions from 2012 are a prime example for consistently excellent performances,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “Even if we are not always at the sharp end or, like last time at Austin, when we lost valuable practice time, Marcel, André and Ben don’t get fazed. At Fuji we aim to fight again for the maximum amount of points possible, so that we stay at the top of the standings.” The trio’s advantage is currently 10 points, 78 points are still to be awarded before the season ends.
The track at the foot of Japan’s highest mountain is particularly challenging. The Fuji Speedway is the only track on which the Audi has not won during the first three years of the FIA WEC. The near one and a half kilometre start-finish straight sees speeds of more than 300 km/h. An extremely slow first corner follows. Corners 2 to 4 are very fast, and are followed by a slow chicane. “As a result, the race car set-up requires a good balance between low drag and aerodynamic downforce,” says Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. “After finishing fifth and sixth last year, we aim to do significantly better at Fuji this time. We’re on the right track with our developments.”
Four of the six Audi drivers have special relationships with the land of the rising sun. Benoît Tréluyer spent 12 years of his career driving here, André Lotterer has competed regularly in Japanese races since 2003 and has a home in Tokyo. Loïc Duval was in action on the island’s tracks between 2006 and 2014, and Oliver Jarvis contested a season of his career here in 2007 and 2014. Duval, Jarvis and Lucas di Grassi underlined their potential most recently in the WEC races at the Nürburgring and in Austin with good performances in qualifying and the races, and mounted the podium for the first time this season two weeks ago.
Audi’s hybrid sports cars compete in Japan in one of the company’s growing markets. The sales volume has grown every year since 2007 and had doubled by 2014. Last year Audi’s growth rate in Japan was 9.1 percent – the company delivered 31,400 automobiles.
During the Fuji race weekend, Japanese fans will not only cheer on the Audi brand in the FIA WEC. The Asian Le Mans Series season 2015/2016 also begins here. The teams Absolute Racing and ARC Bratislava both field an Audi R8 LMS ultra in the GT class of this series. At the same time, the Audi R8 LMS Cup enters the home straight in Japan. At Fuji, the ninth and tenth of twelve races are held in Audi’s one-make cup.
Eurosport broadcasts live the sixth round of the FIA WEC on October 11 between 4.00 and 10.15 in Germany.