The Porsche Team with the two 919 Hybrid Le Mans prototypes enjoyed a trouble free first day at the picturesque, but challenging, Fuji Raceway, which is located about a hundred kilometres southwest of Japan’s capital of Tokyo. Both 90-minutes free practice sessions before the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on Friday got underway in ideal track conditions with ambient temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius and a dry track.
With a lap time of 1:29.021 minutes on the 4.563 km long circuit car number 14 was fourth after the first session and finished third in the second session (1:28.441). Car number 20 came sixth in both free practice sessions (1:29.829 and 1:29.672). In total the two Porsche 919 Hybrids covered 170 laps on the first day in Fuji.
Quotes after free practice:
Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1: “As it is our first time here, the set-up work for the suspension, aerodynamics and the hybrid energy management was somewhat time consuming. Nevertheless we have managed to complete the other topics on the programme too, including tyre evaluation. We have a relatively high downforce level here for the winding sectors, which obviously hampers the top speed on the straight to a certain extent. Having said this, we are quite happy and Neel’s lap time at the end of the second session underlines the positive impression from day one.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 20:
Brendon Hartley (24, New Zealand): “It was good to start the weekend with trouble-free sessions, as our Porsche 919 Hybrid worked well. It is my very first time in Japan let alone Fuji, and I like the circuit despite it being a rather difficult one on which different racing lines are possible. Having the ultra long straight on one side but tight corners on the other means we need to find a good compromise for the aerodynamics in order to have a good top speed, but also enough downforce. After I did a long run in the afternoon, I think we have made a few steps in the right direction to improve the car’s balance compared to the morning session.“
Timo Bernhard (33, Germany): “I didn’t have a clear lap and the car tends to understeer a bit, but most importantly we have been gathering a lot of data to analyse.”
Mark Webber (38, Australia): ”The car ran smoothly and we had a good start to the weekend. We mainly worked on the balance of the car and evaluated the tyre compounds. Fuji is an iconic venue for sports car racing in Japan and we are looking forward to doing a good job here for Porsche.”