|Each of the shorter races this year in the FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season has been successful for Salih Yoluc and the 6 Hours of Fuji on Sunday (14 October) was no exception as he and his TF Sport teammates secured their third podium of the year.
Salih travelled out to Tokyo ahead of the event to adjust to the time zone whilst also taking in the sites and scenes of the city. Once at Fuji Speedway, he and teammates Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam quickly got to grips with the demands of the 4.563km circuit, dialling in the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE through the three practice sessions.
Salih and Jonny both qualified the car in fifth position on a combined average time ahead of the fourth round of the championship.
Charlie took the start of the race in damp condition and was quickly up to fourth position in the GTE-Am class and with a rival blocking his pit box at the end of his first run, lost a little time to run sixth before pitting for slick tyres and moving back into fourth position.
Salih took over for what would be a double stint in fifth position but soon regained the sport to run in the now familiar P4. Jonny took over for the final third of the race, running in third position and then dispatching the #88 Dempsey entry to run 40 seconds behind the leading #56 Team Project Porsche.
The race played out with Jonny eventually taking the chequered flag in third position after 201 laps of competition. This became second following a post-race investigation regarding fuelling irregularities of the top two finishers. The winners result stood, while the second placed Porsche dropped to fourth position.
With three runner-up sports in four rounds, Salih is now third in the GTE-Am class with four rounds of the Super Season complete and four to go. Next up is the 6 Hours of Shanghai which takes place on 18 November.
“At the beginning it didn't go as well as we wanted it to be and we fell behind a little bit,” Salih said. “The race then slowly the race came back at us.
“We would have won if the full course yellow just ahead of my pitstop had continued for one more minute! The #56 Porsche got the benefit and earned 40 seconds plus on us on the pits because of this but that’s racing. I really enjoyed racing here in Japan, the track and the fans are great, and we came away with a good result.”
Three-times a bridesmaid, Salih is looking for the top step of the podium next time out in China but acknowledges that their main rival holds the performance advantage at the moment.
“The first goal is to win in Shanghai,” he said. “I think we'll be in pretty good shape if we manage to do that. We know we have the fastest driver line up, but so far we do not have the fastest car. I believe Porsche still has around half a second per lap advantage to us. But I believe we're strong enough to fight for the championship until the last race at Le Mans next June.”