Controversy and team orders in final minutes of Fuji Six Hours

Weekend Racing Wrap

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The World Endurance Championship Six Hours of Fuji came to a controversial end as one of the leading cars in the LMP2 category was involved in a series of incidents with its closest rivals.

In the LMP1 class both Porsche and Audi swapped the running order of their cars in the closing stages of the race to maximise their chances in the championship.

World Endurance Championship

Race six of eight: Six Hours of Fuji

Team orders set the result of the Six Hours of Fuji: Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb surrendered a comfortable lead to allow Porsche’s strongest championship contenders Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard to take their third win in a row. The two Porsches fell behind their Audi and Toyota rivals on the first lap but battled back ahead by the end of the race.

Behind them Audi also swapped their drivers, promoting Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer in front of Lucas di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis.

Sam Bird, Julien Canal and Roman Rusinov took a controversial win in the LMP2 category after they and the sister G-Drive car tangled with the rival KCMG car of Matt Howson, Richard Bradley and Nick Tandy on three occasions. The final contact, involving G-Drive racer Gustav Yacaman, ended the KCMG car’s involvement in the race.

The stewards initially held Bradley responsible for the collision, claiming he had braked 37 metres earlier than usual. However the ruling has been suspended after KCMG supplied data showing he was at full throttle when he was hit.

Next race: Shanghai International Circuit, 1st November


Races 28-30 of 30: Brands Hatch Grand Prix

Plato passed Shedden’s team mate Matt Neal to win the finale – but it wasn’t enough

Gordon Shedden Won his second British Touring Car Championship title in fine style after fighting from twentieth on the grid to finish fourth at Brands Hatch. Title rival Jason Plato won the race, but afterwards fumed at team mate Aron Smith whom Plato claimed had been too slow to respond to team orders earlier in the race weekend.

Highlights not available yet.

Australian V8 Supercars

Race 25 of 36: Bathurst 1000, Mount Panorama

Red Bull duo Lowndes and Richards won the Bathurst 1000
Just over a second separated the first two cars home after a thousand kilometres of racing around the spectacular Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst. Craig Lowndes took his sixth victory on the mountain, shared with team mate Steven Richards, and chased home by rivals Mark Winterbottom and Steve Owen.

A mid-race rain shower complicated proceedings in a race punctuated with some heavy crashes and a controversy when the sister Red Bull car was given a drive-through penalty after Jamie Whincup overtook the Safety Car.

Two major accidents occurred in the build-up to the main event, the first of which left Chas Mostert with a broken leg and wrist. In an Aussie Racing Car Series support race (below) Damien Flack was launched into a horrifying series of flips after tangling with his brother Adrian. Flack was taken to hospital and later reported to be in a stable condition.

Next race: Surfers’ Paradise, 24th October


Race 30 of 36: Charlotte Motor Speedway

Joey Logano won a rain-delayed race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the first race of the second round of NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup. Kevin Harvick followed him home – the pair were separated by less than a second – and is also right behidn Logano at the top of the points table.

Next race: Kansas, 18th October

Also last weekend

Lewis Hamilton moved one step closer to the F1 championship title with victory in Russia.

Meanwhile McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne clinched the GP2 title with four races to go. In GP3, Esteban Ocon extended his extraordinary run of second-place finishes to nine, and by doing so closed to within two points of championship leader Luca Ghiotto.

Over to you

Which of these races did you watch over the weekend? Were you following any other motor racing action on four wheels?

We’re in the final weeks of the motor racing season. Next week the Formula Renault 3.5 championship concludes at Jerez, and at the same track no fewer than eight drivers will fight for the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup crown. The Hockenheimring will host the DTM and European Formula Three finales.

Hopefully Japan’s Super Formula championship will not see a repeat of the Super GT pit lane madness when it heads to Sugo, with the domestic F3 championship supporting. And NASCAR rumbles in to Kansas.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “Controversy and team orders in final minutes of Fuji Six Hours”

  1. Buhk and Abril (Bentley) won the Blancpain Sprint series from Frijns (Audi). Vanthoor was out due to a crash at the previous round in Misano effectively taking out Audi their strongest driver. Frijns never looked at ease the entire weekend.

    1. FlyingLobster27
      12th October 2015, 17:53

      Frankly, I thought that Frijns had thrown it away on Saturday at turn 1. But the start of the Sunday race brought on a weird situation with a Full Course Yellow not everyone understood how to manage the end of, and suddenly, we had a duel for the title. Good race, I’m glad I set the time aside to watch it.

      As for the WEC… I can’t defend that. Except in a championship-deciding move, you DON’T tell a racer to give up a win, that’s how I’ve felt about racing since Austria 2002, and Porsche crossed a red line. People who have read my comments in the WRW will know I’m passionate about sportscars, but this is a big hit. I’m not even interested in the rest of the WEC now, especially as the last two races are in smoggy Shanghai and soulless Sakhir. Good luck to the FIA-ACO in promoting the end of your DTM-ish fixing competition – or let’s just hope that GTE can provide real, respectable racing.

      1. I’m rather watching ELMS Estoril, because Marc VDS GT team would be folded after the race.

      2. Please do not that Porsche said it would let its cars race, then Audi used teamorders in Germany and that made the case pretty easy to decide for Porsche when the opportunity presented itself.

  2. We’ve seen a few years ago how much outrage there is here when teams pull off team orders like that in F1. Why’s there no controversy when WEC does it?

    1. FlyingLobster27
      12th October 2015, 18:45

      The silence of the endurance community is especially deafening to me, @ciaran. I’ve been quite vocal about my passion for sportscars in general, but this will possibly undo a lot of the positive things that have been said about the WEC. In that sense, I feel hard done by.
      The root of the trouble is that Audi started optimising straight away after Le Mans, at the Nürburgring (round 4 of 8!, and I said on here that I disagreed with it), so Porsche are merely following in a sense… still, it’s no excuse for doing a Todt. It’s a short championship, and understand why they do it, but I’m not going to defend or condone it. I think it harms the series like the brand games have harmed the DTM.

    2. maarten.f1 (@)
      12th October 2015, 18:59

      @ciaran Because hardly anyone watches it? Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but a lot less people watch WEC, so the group that’s going to be upset over it is probably a lot smaller.

      1. @maarten-f1 I’d agree with that view. Though the WEC has clearly gained popularity recently and F1 is on a downward slide, F1 is still on a completely different scale.

        1. FlyingLobster27
          13th October 2015, 9:32

          @keithcollantine I’ve been commenting on a sportscar site too and quite a few people there, and I’d say a majority (very small sample though), are openly ok with the team orders. So the number of people who are upset about it is even smaller than you think, possibly a minority in the endurance fandom!
          But it’s the popularity gain I’m concerned about. Those who are ok and say “it’s about the manufacturers” (for me, a bit of a realisation that some WEC fans really don’t care about the drivers!) will stay, but people who recently joined, saying on here that “WEC is better racing than F1”, or people like me who originally was an F1 fanatic but moved on to other stuff, have just had a nasty reality check.

          1. For me, it’s the fact that the drivers share the cars that makes it more about the manufacturers to me. That’s not to say I don’t care about the drivers, as I do; what it is though is they are not my primary focus, like they are in F1 and the BTCC.

          2. I have to agree with @raceprouk that it’s about the manufacturers more in WEC because each car has multiple drivers. I will say that having Webber and Hulk make appearances has made a noticeable difference. When I was at the COTA WEC race, there was a definite preference for Webber as a driver even among the Porsche drivers. Had the Hulk been there, I think it would have favored him even more coming off Le Mans.

  3. I’m not sure if it was because of the lousy coverage of FIA WEC in the US (cutting away from the world feed for long commercial breaks for “cougar” websites), or if I was just too close to being asleep at 1 a.m, but I never even heard a mention of the driver’s orders whilst watching the race. I noticed it on live timing and was confused, but assumed team orders.

    I did hear a lot of John Hindaugh getting very upset at the G-Drive cars, and rightly so, I believe. That was rather ridiculous driving.

    1. errr Hindhaugh.

    2. The commentators did mention team orders, but they didn’t dwell on them for any length; they mentioned them once or twice, then moved on to other things.

    3. lousy coverage of FIA WEC in the US (cutting away from the world feed for long commercial breaks for “cougar” websites)

      Good ole American Exceptionalism.

  4. Gustavo Yacaman, Pastor’s Colombian cousin..?

    1. @ernietheracefan

      Some say he has a collection of broken front wings in his room, and that, if allowed, he’d start races with a chainsaw attached to the nosecone…

      All we know is… he’s not Pastor Maldonado, but he is Pastor’s Colombian Cousin!

      1. @fer-no65 haha, I love it.

    2. @ernietheracefan @fer-no65 @dragoll

      I watched that race and kept backing up and rewatching the Yacaman “moves”. Pastor is just a moron…Yacaman is an evil thug. He’s Pastor’s cousin from the drug cartels and he was trying to kill someone. He should be banned by the FIA and Rusinov was aggressive enough that he should have been penalized or even black flagged for that race.

      I was stunned to watch that and see them not black flag Yacaman on the spot. The US Announcers were calling for it while it was still in progress and he was playing smash up derby at 170mph.

  5. One way or another those Fuji WEC races somehow turn themselves into black spots on the calendar almost every year. From cancelled events to blatantly boring races or races decided by team orders. I’m not saying Japan should be dropped from the calendar, but…

    All bad things aside, though… god damn, those cars can overtake! The GTs are downright spectacular to watch! Those guys go three wide like they’re running the Indy 500 every race, and the way the LMP1s discharge the hybrid power, it simply makes every overtake between Audi and Porsche a great one.

    Blown out of proportion or not, the WEC is still a pretty impressive motor sport to watch.

    1. The Fuji race should be held earlier in the year, outside the wet season

      1. @raceprouk That’s the most obvious solution, but changing the whole itinerary of the championship doesn’t make much sense. There’s no point in flying to Japan after Le Mans and going back to Germany afterwards only to fly back to the US or China. They could do a forced swap with CotA but that’s about it.

    2. @tony031r Fuji does always seem to be a controversy magnet. And it’s a profoundly un-likeable track in its Tilke incarnation.

      What really surprised me about the Yacaman/Bradley incident was the stewards’ apparent inability to determine whether he Bradley had his foot to the floor when he was hit by Yacaman or, as they initially claimed, braking over 30 metres earlier than on the previous lap.

      1. I was watching that live; I was left in absolutely zero doubt it was Yacaman’s fault. And if it was up to me, based on that and the atrocious driving over the few laps beforehand, I’d have black-flagged him and got him off the track.

        As for the track, most of it is OK; the first corner is a prime overtaking opportunity, as is the chicane before the complex. And that long right into the tight left is a good challenge. But the complex is terrible; I’ve driven it on Gran Turismo, and it is one of the worst pieces of track design I’ve ever seen.
        Ideally, they’d have left the last sector as it was in the 90s, and just redone the first sector (the second sector’s more or less the same).

      2. Yacaman still races in a professional series? I guess the WEC LMP2 teams are desperate for $$$, because he didn’t last that long in Grand-Am or TUSC.

      3. @keithcollantine, the worst part is that, two days after the race took place, the stewards have still not said when they will actually review that incident, let alone actually make a decision on the data. Either way, it does not reflect well on the stewards if they can be that far out on a relatively simple question (if he was braking or not).

        As for Tilke’s redesign, well, his hand was rather forced by the fact that there is a major public highway that runs outside the perimeter of the track. He couldn’t extend the track outwards, so the only way that he could modify the track is to make it turn in on itself, a situation which was always going to result in extremely limited options for what is practical to construct.

  6. How the stewards could hold Bradley responsible is beyond me. It was plain as day the instant it happened it was all Yacaman’s fault; he was driving like a moron for the few laps beforehand, weaving around, almost shoving the KCMG car off the track on several occasions. It was disgusting driving, and he should have been black-flagged.

    But I don’t want to talk about that; I want to talk about Shedden’s fourth place drive. It was sublime; I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone drive a touring car so brilliantly before. And there may be some who disagree, but I rate that drive better than Hamilton’s 2007 Brazil GP drive.
    I’d like to have seen the state of Shedden’s front discs after that race though; the way they were glowing, it’s a minor miracle they didn’t just fail :D

  7. I must be the only one who watched Bathurst instead (same time zone and FTA), as I said last week any race at Mt. Panorama is worth watching and I guess the ticket sales over 4 days of more than 200,000 ( probably the same 50k x 4, like F1 does x 3) suggests others agreed, apart from the endless commercial breaks there was never a dull moment. One other point, watching the race I formed the opinion that the actual camera work part of the coverage was far superior to that we get from FOM, pull your socks up Bernie.

    1. @hohum I watched Bathurst, but flicked over to WEC every so often, then when Foxsports didn’t show the GP2/GP3 races, I was fulltime watching the WEC til the end…

      Bathurst is a bit of a drab affair these days, many people at work commented that they watched the start and then watched the last 20 laps. If I’m honest, Bathurst is a bit like that, because of the amount of Safetycars thrown in, its impossible for a driver to skip off into the distance, as such, all the teams basically make sure they run as lean as possible to ensure that they’re getting the advantage on stops, but no one did this year, and it was good positioning by Lownde’s to be at the front at the right time.

  8. I was more upset about that full course yellow, that pretty much took what ever chance Audi had and threw it in the garbage.

  9. I got to be honest, I’ve never been that bothered about team orders in any form of motorsport. However, the shameful display on-track by G-Drive is worthy of a race ban.

    1. At a minimum, Yacaman needs to be excluded and get a race ban; he was the dangerous one after all.

  10. Webber definitely enjoys this.

  11. Have to say the BTCC finale was great, Plato’s karma really came back to bite him with some drivers letting Shedden through :D

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