Toyota completed a sweep of fastest times in the pre-qualifying practice sessions at Shanghai, with a second 1-2 finish in free practice 3, after a 1m44.888 set by Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID.
Behind, the No. 8 sister TS050 was just 0.278s back, with a 1m45.166 tour of the circuit in the session, which unfortunately was red flagged with just over 20 minutes before the end due to an issue with the curbs. At Turn 3, the inside curbing crumbled, leaving large chunks in dangerous spots. It forced the organizers to stop the session, and send out a team of people to repair the area with fresh concrete.
It was a tough session in the Porsche camp meanwhile, with its pair of 919 Hybrids ending up third and fourth once again. The No. 2 was the faster of the two with Brendon Hartley setting a 1m45.529s before the car suffered issues. The Kiwi limped to the pits after a slow lap caused by issues with the gearbox, which prompted the team to replace multiple parts.
The No. 1 ended up fourth in the running, its best time a 1m46.233s, 1.3 seconds off the ultimate pace set by Kobayashi.
G-Drive Racing set the pace in LMP2. Newly crowned ELMS champion Leo Roussel managed a 1m50.162s shortly before the red flag to slot in firth. The car didn’t have a completely clean run in FP3 though. The car had to come in for repairs after the sister TDS Racing ORECA of Emmanuel Collard tagged it at the final hairpin, damaging its rear while Nico Muller was behind the wheel. It also damaged the front end of the TDS 07, which had to have its front end changed as a result during the subsequent full-course yellow.
Second in the end was the No. 31 Rebellion 07 Gibson. Brazilian Bruno Senna set a 1m50.195s, which for a time was good enough to put the car top, with the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing crew third. Oliver Jarvis set the DC Racing car’s time, a 1m50.665s.
In the GTE ranks, all four manufacturers ended with a car in the top four. On top was the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage, with a 1m59.836s, six tenths clear of the second place No. 67 Ford GT, that moved ahead of the No. 92 Porsche. Outside the top three was the best of the AF Corse Ferraris, the No. 51, which managed to complete a 2m01.098s tour.
GTE Am was led by the Spirit of Race crew’s Ferrari, its 488 producing a 2m01.924 lap that was less than a tenth quicker than the Clearwater Racing 488 which sat atop the class rankings for a while after Matt Griffin’s 2m01.992s.
The No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage completed the top three, a further three tenths adrift.
Qualifying for the WEC runners is set to start at 14:00 local time in Shanghai.