Stefan Mücke
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Stefan Mücke unable to show true potential in 6-Hours of Fuji

• P8 in fourth round of FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Fuji, Japan • Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK driver Stefan Mücke still second in LM GTE Pro class • Stefan: "It was obvious that we couldn't hope to keep up in terms of straight-line speed, which is an especially hard pill to swallow at Fuji, because it's got the longest straight on the entire WEC calendar "

Stefan Mücke took part in the fourth round of the 2018/2019 Super Season of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) this weekend. At the foot of Mount Fuji, he contested the 6-hour race at Fuji International Speedway along with Olivier Pla. Mücke competed in the LM GTE Pro class, driving the #66 Ford prepared by Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK.
Mücke and Pla got the weekend off to a perfect start with best time in first practice despite an unfavourable Balance of Performance. In the other two practice sessions, they finished sixth both times. Qualifying was not too brilliant with ninth place. Starting on a wet track on race Sunday, however, offered the chance to gain ground.
Mücke and Pla had bad luck with a safety car and a full course yellow period during the race, which halted their charge up the field. And then to cap it all, a 30-second penalty for Pla meant they were unable to finish higher than eighth in the LM GTE Pro class. Mücke and Pla are still in a promising position, though, occupying second place in the drivers' standings.
Mücke thinks he has a chance of battling for the podium in the fifth round of the WEC in Shanghai (16th - 18th November).
Five questions for Stefan Mücke
The race began on a wet track. Why was that to your advantage?
It rained during the night. The weather was very variable all weekend. It took quite a while for the track to dry out during the race because of dense cloud cover. That suited us to some extent, as we knew beforehand that it would be tough for us. We were saddled with extra weight following the Balance of Performance adjustment that happens automatically before the race, and our engine's performance was also reduced, which was real tough on us. Consequently, it was obvious that we couldn't hope to keep up in terms of straight-line speed, which is an especially hard pill to swallow at Fuji, because it's got the longest straight on the entire WEC calendar.
What happened during the first half of the race?
We had some terrific battles in the first hour. We benefited from having rain tyres that are designed to suit conditions as they dry, and the track was in fact gradually getting drier. But unfortunately, the safety car got in the way, messing everything up. We then switched to slicks like the competition. Unfortunately, we lost some time during our first stint on slicks. We had bolted on used tyres from qualifying, because we wanted to save the new tyres for the end. We caught up again towards the middle of the race and were looking good in the mid-field. Also, we were able to consistently gain ground on the front-runners.
Unfortunately, things stopped going so well for you in the second stint...
There was a full course yellow period. We had decided as a team that our sister car would pit first and then us. Unfortunately, the full course yellow period didn't take as long as expected and we completed our stop under green, costing us a lot of time. We dropped a fair way back down the field. Olivier then fought his way up into sixth, but unfortunately, got a 30-second penalty when he had a contact with another competitor while overtaking. I'm sorry to say that eighth place is not a satisfactory result. We had hoped for more points.
How did you decide who would take each stint?
I drove the first stint, and so, started out in the wet. After that, I took the second stint on slicks as the track was drying. And then, Olivier also drove a double stint. Finally, I went out on track for a single stint as did he. We took a bit of a gamble after the full course yellow period, hoping for another safety car. That's why we saved fresh tyres for the last stint. We wanted to be well placed should the opportunity arise. Unfortunately, it never happened, which is why nothing more could be done.
The fifth round of the WEC is next up in Shanghai. How do you expect to do there?
I don't suppose that our BoP rating will change, which again means that we will not have it easy from a speed point of view down the long straight in Shanghai. Overall, though, the circuit should suit us drivers and the car. We've performed well there in the past and have some fond memories of the track as a result, which is why I hope we'll be a bit better placed there than in Fuji and can come within striking distance of the podium. Our goal is to reduce the deficit on the front-runners in the overall standings.

Copy: Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK