No. 8 Toyota leads interrupted FP1 at Fuji

Images by Peter May/LAT

No. 8 Toyota leads interrupted FP1 at Fuji

Le Mans/WEC

No. 8 Toyota leads interrupted FP1 at Fuji

Toyota Gazoo Racing set the fastest time of the opening free practice session of the 2018 6 Hours of Fuji, which was interrupted, and later extended, due to a lengthy red flag because of issues with the circuit.

At two separate corners, the ‘sausage’ curbs began to come apart after 20 minutes of the 90-minute session, causing a lengthy delay while circuit inspections and repairs took place. The session did get going again and was extended by 30 minutes, allowing the teams and drivers to get in a good amount of track time.

Race director Eduardo Freitas inspects the curbs. (Image by Peter May)

The fastest time of the session, on the drying circuit following rain throughout the morning, was the No. 8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID, with Sebastien Buemi setting a 1m25.847s. The No. 7 ended up second with a 1m26.381s. Both times came before the red flag.

The best privateer LMP1 was just a second off the Toyotas as Super GT points leader Jenson Button set a 1m26.890s in the No. 11 SMP Racing BR1 toward the end of the session.

Rebellion Racing’s fastest R-13 was the No.1 going fourth overall with a 1m27.151s.

Results

The lengthy pit straight at Fuji Speedway meant that the privateer runners were able to record some blistering speeds through the trap; DragonSpeed BR1 at times exceeded 200 mph.

In LMP2, TDS Racing’s Matthieu Vaxiviere drove a 1m30.360s — over a second quicker than the rest of the class. The top three were rounded out by the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing and No. 31 DragonSpeed ORECA.

Ford and Porsche, as has been the norm this season, set the early benchmark times in the Pro class, the best time coming from the No. 66 Ganassi Ford GT of Stefan Mucke at 1m38.555s. The two Porsche GT Team 911 RSRs ended up finishing second and third, with the No. 91 leading the No.92.

The best of the rest was the No. 51 AF Corse, just under a second off the No.66 in fifth, behind the second Ford.

Aston Martin Racing’s No.98 Vantage went quickest in GTE Am, with a 1m39.763s set by Pedro Lamy.

Aside from the curb issue, there were two dramas in the session. Vitaly Petrov had a big spin into the runoff at Dunlop Corner in the No.11 SMP BR1 and the Project 1 Porsche stopped out on track on the entry to Turn 3; it didn’t rejoin the session.

Free Practice 2 at Fuji is set to get underway at 3 p.m. local time (2 a.m. ET).

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