It was a true test of fortitude as KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) tackled FIA World Endurance Championship’s (WEC) first event in Asia over the weekend. The series’ sixth event, which was held on the scenic foothills of Mount Fuji, witnessed the Hong Kong-based LMP2 squad deliver a stellar performance whilst overcoming every obstacle hurled their way throughout the gruelling six-hour round, only to be eliminated by an opponent during the final minutes of the race.
Richard Bradley, Matt Howson and Nick Tandy’s commanding skill in the Dunlop-shod #47 ORECA 05 coupe was laudable throughout the intense 6 Hours of Fuji. Despite an unfortunate incident during the 20-minute qualifying session, the British tandem of Howson and Tandy managed to secure a fourth place start on the LMP2 grid after logging an average time of 1m32.275s.
The 6 Hours of Fuji started under the Safety car due to the circuit’s treacherous state. Nick Tandy did the opening stint in the #47 ORECA 05 and amidst worsening conditions at Fuji, the British ace engaged in thrilling battles with Team Sard Morand’s Oliver Webb. The blistering pace of the #47 LMP2 paid off as Tandy took the lead and stayed at the front of the LMP2 field for most of the race’s third hour.
An intense first half of the 6 Hours of Fuji highlighted changeable circuit conditions and thrilling battles, which only underlined Tandy’s impeccable drive in what was his first race on the arduous Japanese track. The Le Mans champion’s superb quadruple stint secured the LMP2 top spot as the race reached its halfway mark. “For my part of the race we had a good run, the car was working well in the wet conditions,” said Tandy. “Towards the end of the race it was clear we were in a big fight with the two G Drive cars but I don’t want to comment, it’s up to race control to look into what happened. We still have two races to go and 52 points available.”

Howson took over driver duties and steadily defended his position as the race progressed in tricky conditions. Scheduled pit stops caused the #47 LMP2 to drop a few places down the field but the race’s fourth hour witnessed Howson back in the lead. British compatriot Richard Bradley took over driver duties in second place halfway through the race’s fifth hour and went on to steadily pursue the leading #26 Ligier of Roman Rusinov. The former Super Formula driver began posting super quick lap times and ultimately regained the lead after an outstanding overtaking move on Rusinov as the race entered its final hour.
During a thrilling battle for the LMP2 lead, Rusinov hit the back of Bradley’s car in an attempt to retake the position. The #47 car, which was slightly damaged by the impact, then made a fuel stop and went back out. “It’s disappointing to end a great race where the whole team performed well with some questionable moves from our opposition,” said Richard. “Luckily Oreca have built a very strong car and so I have no injuries. However with the performance we showed I feel confident that we can regain our championship lead in the upcoming races.”The contact from Rusinov called for a yellow flag period and the #26 G-Drive and #36 Signatech Alpine car made use of this to make their last pit stops. This extended the lead of the #26 LMP2 and elevated the #36 to second.
Bradley rejoined the race in third place when he was hit and spun by Gustavo Yacaman in the #28 G-Drive car, which was then one lap down. This led to another pit stop for the #47 LMP2 due to puncture on one of its rear tyres. With less than thirty minutes remaining on the clock, Bradley rejoined the race still in third place. Trailing closely behind was the #28 Ligier driven by Yacaman, who then ultimately hit the back of the KCMG car and eliminated Bradley in the last four minutes of the race.  The #47 LMP2 was forced to retire due to the major damage that the crash had caused. Fortunately, Richard Bradley was not injured.
The crash is currently being investigated and has been escalated to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.
Ben Potter

Leave a reply