If you missed the very start of the 6 Hours of Fuji, you didn’t miss much. It was so wet that they left the cars to circulate behind the safety car for about forty minutes. If you missed any part afterwards, you’re missing pure, unadulterated wet weather insanity. Marvel, for example, at this graceful twin pirouette.
Toyota has lacked pace compared to the other top-class LMP1 prototypes this year, so I suspect they were praying for rain at their other home race in Japan, close to their manufacturer’s home base. While the team itself works out of Köln, Germany, they are the only Japanese marque in the top class at today’s World Endurance Championship race.
Prayers answered, Toyota. We’re blaming you, regardless.
Conditions were miserably wet, so the WEC opted to err on the side of safety and start the race under the safety car. The racing surface was shinier than a narcissist’s favorite mirror, and the spray thrown up was insane.
“Visibility is probably about 100 meters down the front straight!” said Extreme Speed Motorsports driver Ryan Dalziel on the broadcast.
Several cars came in to switch from “wet” tires to “very wet” tires during the yellow flag because it was so bad. Several other cars, including both Rebellion LMP1 cars, spun out while circulating behind the safety car.
Not even that was exciting enough to wake up one member of the Rebellion Racing team. The beginning of this race under the safety car was as dull as the standing water covering the track was wet.
Meanwhile, Porsche was getting antsy to prove the dominance of its GTE-class 911 RSRs as it did last weekend at the very wet Petit Le Mans.
When the race finally went green after seventeen laps and about forty minutes, the spray thrown up by the cars on track was still bordering on the limits of safety and sanity.
Behold, the chaos.
Mark Webber went wide in the slick conditions, losing the lead at turn 4 and falling behind the number 7 and number 8 Audis. Toyota, on the other hand, has been trying to take advantage of the wet conditions to claw their way to the front of the pack during their home race.
The cut-aways to the in-car view confirm that visibility is still total crap, and it’s your best guess as to how anyone can see where anyone else is on the track.
This perfect storm (oh yes, pun intended) of soggy circumstances naturally led to a ridiculous, balls-out battle between the Toyota and the Porsche LMP1s.
Somewhere in the melee, we got a splendid moment of mostly harmless racing contact. No one was hurt. No cars were seriously damaged in expensive or time-sucking ways. Just a small tap between the number 18 Porsche driven by Romain Dumas and the number 2 Toyota of Alex Wurz sent the two cars into a twin spin that looks so perfect, it could have been choreographed.
This is my new favorite wet weather motorsport, as deemed by the WEC’s own commentators and nearly every fan who saw it: synchronized spinning.
Conditions are drying up on track, but that doesn’t mean that everyone isn’t thirsty for a win. Webber went wide again shortly after the dancing duo had their twin spin. Races like this really test drivers’ skill in a way you don’t see on dry races. How do they deal with changing conditions? How do they find the limit of the car and maintain a faster pace than everyone else when things get miserable, puddles form obstacles and grip falls away?
Now that things are starting to dry up a little bit, it’s Audi versus Porsche in a ridiculous dogfight up front. Marcel Fässler in the number 7 Audi and Mark Webber are side-by-side and up each other’s tailpipes fighting for their lives over second and third place. It’s everything you’d ever want to see in a race, and we’re less than halfway through.
Rain also started falling on the Bathurst 1000, too, so we may see a repeat performance on Mount Panorama soon. If you’re waiting to watch one or the other later, let me make this decision easy: watch both. They’re both completely bonkers displays of thirst for the win.
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