LMP2 class leader KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) heads to the scenic foothills of Mount Fuji this week as the FIA World Endurance Championship’s first six-hour round in Asia takes place in the Land of the Rising Sun. As the highly contested premier sports car endurance series travels to the Far East after five successful events in Europe and America, the Hong Kong-based outfit is keen to be back on the top step of the podium with Le Mans 24 Hours winners Richard Bradley, Matt Howson and Nick Tandy.
The all-British trio, who clinched LMP2 victory at the Nurburgring in August, will once again share driving duties in the Dunlop-shod #47 ORECA 05 coupe. Leading the class by 14 points, KCMG is set to demonstrate their strong form on Fuji’s 4.563km configuration. Bradley and Howson’s years of competing at the highly demanding track in two of Japan’s most competitive Formula series, namely Super Formula and All-Japan Formula 3, complemented by Tandy’s stellar skill in the electric blue LMP2, gives the team a commanding advantage in WEC’s sixth event.
Fresh from claiming the GT championship crown in IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship with Porsche at the series’ season finale at Petit Le Mans, Tandy rejoins KCMG for the remaining three races in FIA WEC calendar. More so, the 6 Hours of Fuji will be Tandy’s first ever race on an Asian track. After sealing victory at the French Endurance classic and USCC in the LMP1 and GT categories, the British ace is eyeing to further extend his success and ultimately round off an outstanding year by taking the LMP2 championship trophy with KCMG in WEC.
Held as part of WEC’s festivities in Japan, Asian Le Mans Series’ 2015-2016 season will kick off at Fuji Speedway this weekend. KCMG will field a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the GT Am class, which will be shared by Paul Ip, KCMG 2014 Scholarship awardee James Munro and Christian Reid in the championship’s inaugural two-hour round. The premier Asian series, sanctioned by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest, will hold four events across the region, underlining the French organisation’s thrust to provide Asian teams a world-class platform for sports car endurance racing.
Richard Bradley: “I’m very excited to be going back to Fuji as it’s almost like a home race for me, having spent some time in Japan and having so many friends there. I’m really looking forward to be racing there again. It’s also a track that I know extremely well, after competing in JF3 and Super Formula. After the speed we’ve shown in previous races this year, we can be confident of a strong result at Fuji this weekend.”
Matt Howson: “Heading to Fuji Speedway is always a special feeling with KCMG, it’s one of our two ‘home’ races in Asia and a place I raced successfully in Formula 3 with the same team. We are currently the strongest package in LMP2 and after finishing 2nd here last year, and with Nick Tandy returning we this weekend aim to win the first World Championship race in Japan for KCMG.”
Nick Tandy: “Personally, it will not only be my first time racing at Fuji, but also my first ever trip to Japan and even Asia! I was on other duties last time out at Austin, but I watched the race and I’m pleased we scored more big points toward the championship. Now for me, my full focus is back on the WEC and winning this championship with KCMG.”
James Munro: “I’m really excited to be racing again and also to drive the Porsche for the first time. This will be a great experience for me and I’m really grateful to KCMG and their scholarship programme for giving me this chance. I hope to make the most of it and bring home a good result with Paul and Christian.”
Christian Reid: “I’m really looking forward to the Asian Le Mans race. After the ILMC Cup in 2010 and 2011 and the WEC races since 2012, it’s good to be racing in Asia again. Fuji Speedway is an amazing circuit and I am excited to join KCMG there.”
Paul Ip, KCMG Founder: “It will be a very hectic week for the team, as we represent Asia in two of ACO’s top sports car endurance championships at Fuji Speedway this weekend. We are looking forward to the 6 Hours of Fuji and Asian Le Mans’ season opener, given that this historic Motorsport venue has been our stomping ground since 2012 with our programmes in Japan F3 and Super Formula. Personally, I am also thrilled to take part in the 2 Hours of Fuji with James and Christian. It will be a new challenge for me, but I’m confident that we can deliver positive results this weekend.”
Images from Jakob Ebrey