Situated below the stunning backdrop of Mount Fuji, Fuji Speedway, which comprises a wide range of corners, undulation, a very long straight and highly variable weather, provided the location for the penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The #60 Iron Lynx of Claudio Schiavoni, Alessio Picariello and Matteo Cressoni and the #85 Iron Dames of Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey, both in the Porsche 911 RSR – 19, took to the circuit aiming to build on positive performances in the previous round.

Preparation for the race weekend was heavily interrupted by a typhoon that swept the circuit on Friday, while rain descended onto the circuit just ahead of Saturday morning practice, but the track was drying quickly as the cars headed out for qualifying.

Bronze-graded drivers Sarah and Claudio were behind the wheel for the 15-minute session, with it clear early on that slicks were the tyre to be driving with. Claudio negotiated the challenging drying conditions well, improving on his best lap consistently and finishing 13th in the tightly-fought class, with Sarah put in another strong qualifying session and qualified second, close to pole position.

Claudio and Sarah started the race. The opening turn was chaotic, allowing Claudio to gain a position, while Sarah lost out to the D’Station Racing entry which started its Gold-graded driver, before there was a short Safety Car for a beached Ferrari.

As has been the story of much of the season the opening couple of stints featured Sarah battling against the #33 Corvette, with the pair providing some entertaining battles throughout. Claudio put in a pair of consistent stints, and gained a further position, before handing over to Matteo, while Michelle took over the #85.

Michelle put in strong times and kept the car in contention for the lead at the top of the class. Unfortunately, the #60 car picked up a couple of penalties and slipped back down the order. As the race progressed, the #85 kept within range of the leading cars and in the fight for a podium finish.

Rahel, who took over from Michelle after a single stint, battled hard to remain in with a chance of a top-three, but she dropped down the order slightly before handing back to Michelle to finish the race. While the overall lap times of Matteo, and later Alessio when he took the car for the final two stints, was strong, the earlier penalties limited the performance of the car and drivers to a position just outside of the top 10 in a race with no retirements.

For the Iron Dames, the pace started to come back in the final hour and Michelle put in very strong times to keep close to the Corvette in front. Despite the determined drive, there just was not enough time to work up into the top three at the conclusion of the race. There was a late Full Course Yellow, which was short, and at the chequered flag Michelle and Alessio brought their respective cars home in fourth and 11th, which puts the Iron Dames in second place in the championship by six points with one race remaining in a very close battle.

Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia
Also in action for their penultimate round of the season was Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia, with the #33 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 of Loh Lean Shen and Mark Darwin and the #37 entry of Kumar Prabakaran taking to China’s Shanghai International Circuit for two 50-minute races – the last round held in the east before the Grand Finals at Vallelunga in November.
The #33 was involved in plenty of battles in the first race, but unfortunately contact in the closing stages of the race while running in a podium position put an early end to the pair’s race. From a class pole, the #37 dropped back on the opening lap and was not able to recover, coming home fifth in class.
In the second race, Prabakaran was in a three-way fight for the class lead throughout which was only decided in the final minutes. He was able to come home in second position after a late spin for one of the leading trio. For the Shen/Darwin entry, the race came alive in the closing stages, and they were able to work their way into fourth on the final lap, capitalising on an issue for the car ahead.

It has been a very demanding pair of events in the far east in Japan and China. We had a challenging FIA WEC race for both crews at Fuji, with the #60 car suffering in the opening part of the race and then having a pair of contacts while fighting hard to get back in contention which costed them two penalties. The #85 Iron Dames crew put in a determined performance through the whole race, but we just couldn’t match the pace of Ferrari and Corvette in the latter stages to grab the podium, but they are in the strongest position to secure second in the championship in Bahrain.

We have all been very appreciative of the incredible support we have seen here this weekend; it has been very nice to see so many fans at our garages and showing their love for the team here. At Shanghai, it was great to see Kumar Prabakhan take a well-earned podium finish after two entertaining Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia races. We will now focus on the preparation of the last race in Bahrain and try to end the FIA WEC season on a high note maximising our championship positions.

Iron Lynx Team Principal and CEO, Andrea Piccini