Tag Archives: Kazuki Nakajima

FIA WEC

Photo : CLEMENT MARIN - DPPI
Photo : CLEMENT MARIN – DPPI

AUDI CLAIM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE IN SHORTENED 6 HOURS OF FUJI—

Torrential rain at Fuji International Speedway today unfortunately prevented the FIA World Endurance Championship’s competitors from putting on the fantastic show of racing they had planned for the 23,700 passionate Japanese fans present for the 6 Hours of Fuji.

The race was stopped after 3 hours and 46 minutes due to worsening weather conditions and deteriorating light, and the No.7 Toyota TS030 Hybrid of Kazuki Nakajima, Nicolas Lapierre and Alexander Wurz was declared the overall winner.  Half points were awarded to all drivers.

Second place for the No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen, Loïc Duval and Allan McNish was enough to seal the FIA World Endurance Manufacturers’ Championship for Audi, although the Drivers’ title has yet to be decided. 

Only 16 laps of racing were completed – all behind the Safety Car – and the race was suspended twice by the Race Director for safety reasons.  The No.8 Toyota of Davidson-Buemi-Sarrazin and the No.1 Audi R18 of reigning World Champions Lotterer-Tréluyer-Fässler both suffered from problems during the race.  The Toyota started from the pit lane after missing the pit exit closure time, and the Audi had to make three unscheduled pit stops to deal with debris in the air intake system but still finished on the lead lap, albeit in 26th place.

The No.12 Rebellion Racing LMP1 Privateer entry of Mathias Beche and Andrea Belicchi filled the third place on the overall podium, the Lola-Toyota finishing just ahead of the LMP2 class winner – the No.35 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan of Bertrand Baguette, Ricardo Gonzalez and Martin Plowman.  The 24 Hours of Le Mans winners headed the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 03 Nissan of Rusinov-Martin-Conway and the Japanese-entered No.27 Gainer International Zytek Z11SN Nissan of Hiranaka-Ueda-Wirdheim.  Delta-ADR, Lotus Praga, OAK Racing’s other two entries, KCMG and Pecom Racing all completed the race without issues.

Over 41,000 fans visited Fuji International Speedway over the weekend of the FIA WEC’s visit, and the Championship organisers, teams and drivers’ thoughts were all for those after the shortened race today. 

Gerard Neveu, CEO of the FIA WEC said, “Today’s 6 Hours of Fuji was not the race we wanted to put on for the thousands of Japanese fans who travelled to see the FIA World Endurance Championship.  However the sporting officials took the right decisions with regards to the race in the interests of safety for our drivers and teams, which is always of primary importance. 

“We acknowledge that this situation is still a huge disappoint for the fans and we would like to personally thank everyone who stayed in the pouring rain until the final decision to stop the race was taken.  As a token of our gratitude we opened the pit lane at the end of the event, so the drivers could also show their appreciation.  We look forward to coming back again to Japan in 2014 and we hope that the fans will re-join us on the 5th October next year.”

WEC

TOYOTA WIN ON HOME GROUND, REBELLION AND STARWORKS SEAL TITLES

Dusk was starting to fall over Fuji Speedway as Toyota Racing’s Kazuki Nakajima took the chequered flag in front of a grandstand wholly given over to the Japanese manufacturer.  The clouds gathered little by little over the mountain peaks which surround the track but they didn’t discourage the 32,000-strong crowd (50,000 over the three days) which came to cheer on Toyota’s triumph, plus that of Nissan in the LMP2 class.  The 6 Hours of Fuji will no doubt linger in Japanese fans’ memories for some time, the event having received a very warm welcome!

While Audi has already wrapped up the Constructors’ title, Toyota could be relied on to take the fight to the Four Rings in this latter part of the season.  After its first victory in the 6 Hours of São Paulo, the No.7 TS030 Hybrid shone on home ground thanks to Nicolas Lapierre, Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima who were fast on each of the three days of the event.  The Japanese manufacturer took its second win in only its fifth race, an enviable statistic especially as the successes were achieved against a far more experienced adversary.

The battle was close right to the end with a gap at the finish line of just 11 seconds between the winning Toyota and the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of double 24 Hours of Le Mans victors André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer.  This trio, having been awarded a penalty for contact with the No.97 Aston Martin, had to make one more stop than planned and lost the fuel consumption advantage it held over its Japanese rival. Their second place wasn’t enough to allow them to take the Drivers’ title as the second Audi, the No.2 of Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen, also finished on the overall podium, having not been able to maintain the same rhythm as the top two cars after the first hour.

Alex Wurz: “This is an extremely special day, not only for the TOYOTA Racing team but for the entire TOYOTA family who have supported us. Our first win in Brazil was already an incredible experience but to win here, so close to Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre where the TOYOTA Motor Sport Division is based, is something else. We have had great support all weekend, from TOYOTA members and also from the thousands of fans here at Fuji Speedway. It’s been an incredible experience. We promised to fight for the win but Audi made it very difficult. This win is the result of an enormous team effort, from Japan to Cologne. From the start of the weekend everything was targeted on race balance and strategy; we executed it and got the result we wanted so big thanks to the team.”

Nicolas Lapierre: “It is a great result for us. It was an exciting race which is good for the championship and all the fans who came to Fuji Speedway today. It was a tight fight with Audi. For my part of the race we decided to double-stint the tyres so we could make up some time. It worked well and we got to the front, then I tried to control the gap even if the tyres were a bit old. It worked because at the end I had a little margin. We knew at the end we had to take an extra pit stop so Kazuki had to push really hard, which he did very well. We are very happy to win here. Since the beginning of the year everyone has been speaking about how important this Fuji race is for TOYOTA and we made it.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “What a day! It is a great achievement and it was a team effort so many thanks to my team-mates and the team, who prepared a great car, as well as everybody at TOYOTA who prepared such an impressive hybrid system. We all achieved this together. To win a world championship race as a driver has been my aim for my whole career so it is a great day. The crowd was fantastic; it was great to see so many TOYOTA flags in the grandstands. I was so excited in the last few laps. I was getting the message from my engineer to push hard because I had to make a gap for our last pit stop, so it was quite challenging. I was pushing like crazy and finally we just made it.” 

If the final outcome between the factory teams was tiny in terms of the gap, the race amongst the LMP1 Privateers was quickly settled.  The No.12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota finished a lap ahead of its nearest rival, which allowed the British-based Swiss team to lift the FIA Endurance Trophy in the category one race before the end of the 2012 season.  Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost were never headed in the race, leaving the other protagonists to battle it out for second place which eventually went to the No.22 JRM HPD-Honda.  In fact, David Brabham, Karun Chandhok and Peter Dumbreck emerged as winners in a fantastic duel with rivals Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts, drivers of the No.21 Strakka Racing HPD ARX 03a-Honda.

Just as Rebellion Racing succeeded in getting its hands on the FIA Endurance Trophy in its category, so also did Starworks Motorsport in LMP2 thanks to the second place finish of Stéphane Sarrazin, Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio at the wheel of the No.44 HPD ARX 03b-Honda.   The trio, who were invincible at Sebring, Le Mans and Brazil, couldn’t match the No.25 ADR Delta Oreca 03 Nissan of John Martin, Tor Graves and Japanese driver Shinji Nakano, winners of the LMP2 class by a comfortable margin of one lap.  The Starworks car managed to stay ahead of the No.24 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan, Jacques Nicolet, Olivier Pla and Matthieu Lahaye climbing onto the third step of the podium for the second consecutive time following the 6 Hours of Bahrain.

Ryan Dalziel, Starworks Motorsport:  “It will probably take a little while for our Championship win to sink in. It was a program that I felt kept getting stronger and stronger. When you look at the results we have had, it is incredible that a first-year team with no experience in motorsport outside of North America and with engineers who had never been outside America, could come here and do this.  It all comes down to having the right people in place. We took the right decision in going for the Honda HPD chassis, then the Dunlop tires worked well with the car.  A lot of our success came from having a reliable car – not necessarily the fastest car. It is incredible to put your name next to a world championship. I don’t care whether it is a team championship or a driver championship – in racing it is a team and we all deserved to win this.”

Teams and drivers will now turn their attention towards China for the 6 Hours of Shanghai, the final round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship at which the Drivers’ title will finally be decided.  Rendez-vous then on the 28th October to find out who the winners will be!

WEC

Toyota Racing’s Kazuki Nakajima set Fuji Speedway alight this afternoon by claiming the manufacturer’s first pole position in Japan with the No.7 TS030 Hybrid, at their home track. 

The Japanese driver, making his return to the Toyota’s cockpit for the first time since the 24 Hours of Le Mans, set a time of 1:27.499, more than two tenths of a second clear of second placed Benôit Tréluyer in the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.   The Frenchman, who raced in Japan for almost 12 years, couldn’t quite match the Toyota, but he was more than half a second clear of his team mate Tom Kristensen in the No.2 Audi.

Kazuki Nakajima: “I am really happy to get this pole position at Fuji Speedway; it means a lot to me and the team. It was cool to see the reaction of everyone in the garage at the end of the session because we had big support and also big expectations as this is our home country, our home track. We saw this morning that the car was quick enough to fight for pole position and, even though I had a bit of traffic at the start of qualifying, I managed to get a clean lap. It is a good achievement but it is still Saturday; the race means a lot more than qualifying. It will be a tricky race, particularly because it is difficult to cope with traffic in the last sector. So we will have to be careful and make no mistakes. Our aim is to win the race; we will push hard.”

Toyota also had much to celebrate among the LMP1 Privateers as it was Neel Jani’s No.12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota which marked the fastest qualifying time with a lap of 1:29.871, fourth overall. He edged out the HPD-Hondas of Strakka Racing and JRM – Danny Watts in the British-flagged No.21 HPD ARX 03b by just two tenths and David Brabham in the No.22 JRM car by a solid half second. Just four out of the top 18 cars are powered by engines not produced by a Japanese manufacturer.

In LMP2 it was the championship points leader who claimed pole position thanks to Stéphane Sarrazin whose lap of 1:32.367 was the fastest of the whole week in the category.  The pole allows the No. 44 Starworks Motorsports HPD-Honda, winners at Sebring, Le Mans and São Paulo to notch up an extra point in its chase of the FIA Endurance Trophy.  The fight was tight in the class as less than two tenths separated the poleman from John Martin in the No.25 ADR-Delta Oreca 03-Nissan who was himself in front of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s No.32 Lola Lotus by less than another two tenths.  The narrow gaps foretell a closely-contested race in this class which has got better and better; Starworks Motorsports being 22 points ahead after getting pole.

Who from Toyota, Honda or Nissan will be waving the Japanese colours tomorrow for the 6 Hours of Fuji?  The answer will be known at 1700 hours, but before everyone will be back on track at 0755 hours for Warm Up and at 1100 hours for the start of the race.