Habsburg and his teammates suffered from a series of bad luck this season, being at arm’s length from potential podium finishes and win, some last-minute misfortunes kept denying them glory.
After a lengthy summer break, FIA WEC sprung back into action at the iconic Fuji Speedway. In pure Fuji style, the threat of an approaching typhoon lingered throughout the week leading up to the race. However, apart from a rain-hit Friday, the rest of the weekend was unaffected by the storm.
The #31 car lined up in P7 on the grid on Sunday with Sean Gelael at the wheel. Avoiding the chaos in the opening lap, the Indonesian driver moved up to fourth place before the Safety car got deployed, and snatched P3 after the restart.
He delivered a perfect double stint, passing the wheel to Frijns. Ferdinand took over from the Dutch driver around the two-hour mark and completed a strong run in P4, chasing the United cars in a four-way battle between the Belgian and American teams’ cars.
This time his tremendous race pace wasn’t thwarted by any incidents and the Austrian was in his element once again.
Robin took over the wheel in P4 for the final double stint of the race. Thanks to Team WRT’s impeccable strategy and the Dutchman’s fighting spirit, he launched an attack on the United cars and at one point he was ahead of both in second place, but the traffic in the final few laps wasn’t in his favour and he crossed the line in third place.
This triumph comes after a tough period so it almost feels like a win. It’s also Ferdinand’s eighth FIA WEC podium and his first visit to the rostrum in Japan.
“I really enjoyed my time here in Japan. This place has such a unique atmosphere with some of the most passionate fans I’ve seen. It was nice to be back on the podium and get drenched in champagne after quite a long time. I think we really deserved this one, and it was even more special that we could share it with our sister car teammates. Now let’s try to win the last race!”
Jamie Campbell-Walter, Managing Director, Bullet Sports Management:
“Ferdinand had a rough start to the season, but he remained motivated, even with the championship hopes long gone. He drove superbly on Sunday and I was delighted to see him get the reward for his relentless work. Although there’s only one race left on the calendar, Bahrain is a track where he already won twice so it’s all set to finish the season on a high note.”
The 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship season concludes on November 4 with the 8 Hours of Bahrain.