First appearance in the land of the rising sun for Richard Mille Racing Team
Paul-Loup Chatin, Charles Milesi and Lilou Wadoux determined to fulfil their potential
After an almost two-month summer break, the FIA World Endurance Championship heads to Japan to kick off its home stretch run with the penultimate round of the calendar.
Located about 100 kilometres from Tokyo with Mount Fuji as a backdrop, Fuji Speedway is a motorsport monument in the land of the rising sun. The 4.563 km long circuit is characterised by a 1.5 km start-finish straight and a series of tight corners. The engineers will therefore have to find the perfect compromise between aerodynamic finesse, grip, and motricity to give the trio in the No. 1 Oreca-Gibson car their best chance for success.
The team, which has steadily improved in America and Europe, is eager to confirm its improvement on a new track posing new challenges. The team will nonetheless rely on the Japanese experience of its partner Signatech.
"We took a real step forward during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and this was obvious at Monza as our crew was challenging for a podium before a race incident, explains Philippe Sinault, Richard Mille Racing Team team principal. The idea now is to confirm this potential at Fuji. We know we have a highly motivated team that trained well during the summer break. We can also rely on an excellent technical signing to accelerate our momentum and convert it into a solid result. There will be many challenges, as this is a circuit of compromise in terms of balance, not to mention the weather, as you have to expect everything at Fuji!"
Paul-Loup Chatin returns to Japan and will make his second start of the season in the No. 1 Oreca-Gibson. "I am thrilled to be back in the Richard Mille Racing Team colors at Fuji, where I scored my first podium in the FIA WEC and with Signatech back in 2015. We have great memories of that. Even if the final result at Monza was not representative of our overall performance, we showed some good things and I am looking forward to Japan to keep the positive momentum we have built up since the 24 Hours of Le Mans going. However, we will have to be wary of this atypical track. Whatever happens, the conditions will be the same for everyone, but we will have to understand them better to be successful. I am looking forward to reuniting with Charles and Lilou and getting a good result”
Charles Milesi, who spent time in Japan during his single-seater career, will also be back in a country he knows well. "It's nice to be back behind the wheel after the long break since the last race. I am looking forward to returning to Fuji. I like the track as I clocked in many kilometres there. I hope that the unique atmosphere will also be there. Despite its simple look, the circuit is a real challenge, especially the very technical last sector. It is hard to judge your line and closing speed. We will have to find the right compromises with our LMP2. Our recent testing has also allowed us to work on our strengths and try to find solutions to our weaknesses, so I am confident that Fuji will see us take another step forward to get closer to the top teams."
For Lilou Wadoux on the other hand, it will be a new experience, but the Frenchwoman will take up the challenge without asking herself any questions as is her wont. "The 6 Hours of Fuji will be just my second race outside Europe. I've heard many good things about Fuji Speedway, so I look forward to it. As always, I have prepared myself as best I can and I am delighted to have Charles and Paul-Loup with me. Their respective experiences at Fuji will for sure be an asset and we will be able to put ourselves quickly in the best possible position. I think we are in a position to carry on our momentum. We just have to fulfil our potential with a convincing result!"
Charles Milesi, Lilou Wadoux and Paul-Loup Chatin will be back behind the wheel this Friday for the first free practice sessions. Qualifying will take place on Saturday before the Richard Mille Racing Team starts the 6 Hours of Fuji for the first time on Sunday at 11.00 am local time.
Friday 9 September
4-5:30 am: Free practice 1
8:30-10 am: Free practice 2
Saturday 10 September
3:20-4:20 am: Free practice 3
8-8:10 am: Qualifying Hypercar
Sunday 11 September
4-10 am: 6 Hours of Fuji