The No.22 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson, piloted by Filip Albuquerque, embarked on a dominating journey in the opening two hours of the race, skillfully building a substantial lead from its pole position start. Albuquerque’s precision on the track was unmatched, and he looked poised for a remarkable run.
Meanwhile, the sister United Autosports car, driven by Joshua Pierson, began its race in second place. However, their ambitions took a hit when they were handed a 10-second penalty at their first pit stop. This penalty stemmed from an early race contact with the No.41 WRT car of Rui Andrade, which added a layer of complexity to their pursuit.
Pierson eventually handed over the reins to Oliver Jarvis at the second pit stop, who found himself running in third position as the third hour of the race approached. The battle for supremacy within the United Autosports team was certainly intense, with each driver eager to prove their mettle.
In the midst of these team dynamics, the No.28 LMP2 entry managed to surge into second place. This achievement was even more impressive considering they had been spun around in the first hour by their stablemates in the No.38 Jota Porsche. Pietro Fittipaldi’s bold tire gamble helped them recover some of the deficit. Still, they had to make a third stop earlier than expected, causing them to drop back in the field but not out of contention.
As the race unfolded, Team WRT was sitting pretty in third and fourth positions. The No.41 car, driven by Kubica, led the charge, with the No.31 car, driven by Frijns, following closely behind. Rui Andrade and Sean Gelael had initiated the race for their respective cars, and they were determined to keep the pressure on the leaders.
The No.9 Prema Racing entry, with Bent Viscaal taking over from Juan-Manuel Correa who had started, secured the fifth spot on the track. Rounding out the top six was the No.9 Vector Sport Oreca-Gibson, driven by Gabriel Aubry after Ryan Cullen’s initial stint.
The No.22 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson continued to maintain its lead as Frederick Lubin took over the driver’s seat, successfully resisting the relentless pressure exerted by Oliver Jarvis in the sister United Autosports car during the mid-phase of the race. The internal rivalry within the team added an extra layer of excitement to the competition.
However, things took an unexpected turn for the No.23 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson, driven by Ben Hanley, as it lost precious time after being spun around by Joao Paulo De Oliveira in the Floyd Vanwall car. This mishap allowed Louis Deletraz in the No.41 WRT car to swoop into second position.
Hanley, undeterred by the setback, mounted a remarkable recovery effort, relentlessly chasing down Deletraz as the battle raged on in the fourth hour of the race. Deletraz, on the other hand, homed in on the leader, Phil Hanson, who had taken over from Lubin. The two talented drivers ran nose to tail, providing a thrilling spectacle for spectators and fans alike.
Further back, the No.31 WRT entry, with Ferdinand Habsburg at the helm, was also closing in on the front of the class lead, making the top four cars a tightly packed group, separated by just 12 seconds. The competition was fierce, and the margin for error was minimal.
The No.36 Alpine ELF Team held the fifth position, while the No.10 Vector Sport car rounded out the top six. JOTA, adopting an off-sequence strategy, enjoyed moments in the lead with Oliver Rasmussen but found themselves in a net seventh place as the race continued to unfold.
As the race reached its midway point, the battle for supremacy in the LMP2 class was far from settled, promising even more thrills and challenges in the hours to come.
#63 PREMA RACING / Oreca 07 – Gibson – FIA WEC 6h of Fuji – Fuji International Speedway – Gotemba – Japan –