2015 World Endurance Championship Round 6/8
6 Hours of Fuji race report
TEAM SARD MORAND, powered by the Judd Power designed and supplied HK engine, took its fourth top-5 finish in five races after a great drive at the top of the LMP2 class in the 6 Hours of Fuji, the sixth round of the 2015 World Endurance Championship.
For their first event in Japan, Benoit Morand and his guys also welcomed a newcomer at the wheel of the #43 Morgan EVO SARD, as Chris Cumming joined Oliver Webb and Pierre Ragues. Things started fine on Friday and Saturday. The Swiss team completed the first and second practice sessions in fourth position, before qualifying in a very respectable 3rd place on Saturday .
On race day, the “good old” Morgan performed remarkably well in the rain in the first stages of the 6-hour event. Oliver Webb was at the wheel for the race start under rainy conditions. After 40 minutes behind the Safety Car, the lights went green and the British driver jumped from third on the grid into the LMP2 lead at the end of the first lap. He remained in the overall top 10 after the first hour and remained in the class top 3 until he got stranded in the gravel after overshooting turn 1, causing the first full course yellow after 2hrs 20min of racing.
After getting back on the track, Webb handed over to Pierre Ragues, who resumed the race in 8th position in the class. Once again the car proved reliable in any conditions and the Frenchman climbed up to P6. Chris Cumming took the wheel 80 minutes before the chequered flag for the last stint. For his first race with TEAM SARD MORAND, the British driver’s mission was to bring the car home. He delivered consistent driving and maintained 6th position, before reaching P5 in the last few minutes of the race after a collision in the LMP2 top 3.
Chris Cumming: “I had a very good feeling with the whole team, the guys and the car. We did not get the result we wanted but I think that a podium finish was possible. My first run in a race was trouble-free so this is very encouraging. The weather conditions were very difficult. Considering the fact that it was my first outing in race with the Morgan, my pace was pretty good. This is my second race in WEC after the 24 Hours of Le Mans and I start feeling comfortable. I think it was a really good first weekend with the team.”
Benoit Morand, the Team Manager’s final word: “This weekend was very satisfactory. For his first race with the team, we had a great contact with Chris Cumming. He did a great race. He is a very calm and easy-going person. On the track he is fast and consistent, and he improved his times through the whole weekend. The guys did a great job during the three practice sessions and qualifying, with the third position in the class. Because of the weather conditions it took quite a time to define the race strategy, we had to react in the heat of the moment. For the early stages of the race we decided to mount cut-slicks and this was the right option. We decided to complete the third stint with the same tyres and everyone followed this option. Everything was perfect at that time: we led the class in the first hour and held a comfortable P2. Oliver’s slight mistake cost us three or four laps because he was stranded in the gravel of outside turn 1. This also crippled Pierre’s race because we had to change the front nose. Be that as it may, the team demonstrated that we are always competitive. Another podium finish is more than ever within reach, all we have to do is avoid any other mistake to make it again.”
The penultimate round of the World Endurance Championship will take place in Shanghai (China) on Sunday November 1st.