On September 11th, 2022, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 5th round, 6 hours of Fuji, was held at Fuji Speedway. 2 units of GR010 HYBRID from TOYOTA GAZOO Racing (TGR), made an impressive one-two finish. A great way to celebrate the competition which was held for the first time in 3 years since 2019. I, Matsunaga, a leading supporter of motor sports in Fujitsu, have rooted with all my strength. This is a report of the result of the race from my own perspectives.
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Welcome home! ~Fuji after 3 years~
The WEC Fuji Round was held for the first time in 3 years since 2019. This is the first race for TGR's Hyper car GR010 HYBRID, and it is a triumphal first race right after the 24 hour Le Mans victory. The venue, Fuji Speedway, is a circuit mainly owned by Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota), and the long-awaited race was packed with passionate fans, teams and drivers.
The hybrid powertrain *1, the heart of the TGR hyper car was developed and manufactured at Toyota's Higashi Fuji Research Laboratories. I was moved to see that those engineers were also competing in the race together.
- *1Hybrid powertrain: a system to operate the intake and waste valves in the engine combustion chamber.
Before the start of this race (at the end of the fourth round) TGR ranked first place in the Manufacturer's Championship ranking, but in second place next to Alpine in the Driver's Championship. Fuji was a very important race in order to win the world championship with both the manufacturer and the driver.
2 TGR Hyper cars made a beautiful one-two finish
September 10th, 2022, qualifying round. Within the short qualifying period of 10 minutes, 3 teams in Hyper car Class (TGR, Alpine, Peugeot) competed using ace drivers, while LMP2 class also ran in the same group. In the end, Kamui Kobayashi took pole position in TGR Car 7. Brendon Hartley's TGR Car 8 took second place, only 0.020 seconds behind the leader, and TGR dominated the front row (1st and 2nd place). Alpine in third place and Peugeot in fourth and fifth place also scored goals within a second after these two cars, and the final race was expected to be a close contest.
Finally, October 11th, the day of the final. Blessed with clear, cloudless skies from the morning, TGR began its six-hour long race in front of the fans at the grand stand, with the drive of Kamui Kobayashi in car 7 and Sebastian Buemi in car 8. At the beginning of the race, the two cars ran with a slight difference, but after one hour and soon after the first pit stop, car No. 8, which had a faster pace, passed car No. 7 and the order of the two cars changed. After that, the two GR010 HYBRID kept 1st and 2nd positions without any changes or troubles. The safety car and full course yellow never came out, and the car constantly ran steadily which made me fascinated. At the last stint, car 8 switched to Ryo Hirakawa. The third place and below kept the lead of more than 1 lap, and TGR finished 1st and 2nd place .
Matsunaga's View on the Possibilities of Technology
As a personal opinion, I have increased my confidence in contributing to the realization of a sustainable world through motor sports using Digital Annealer, data-driven Services, AI, and other technologies. Here are three examples:.
- Prediction of problems using telemetry data
- Create race strategies based on simulations using historical data
- Analyzes the needs of the fan base through social media and provide information and services in order to support fan engagement.
At the race site, our company engineers and TGR team members had various discussions about the potential of technology. As a member of the squad, our company will keep challenging in extreme situations.
The next game, “8 Hours of Bahrain” , is finally the last game of this season. For both the Manufacturers and the Drivers, the World Champion will be determined in the finals on November 12th . I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
By taking on challenges in new fields like motor sports, Fujitsu will work to solve social issues, and realize a sustainable and carbon neutral world.