Alonso paces Fuji FP2

Alonso paces Fuji FP2

Le Mans/WEC

Alonso paces Fuji FP2

Toyota Gazoo Racing continued to set the pace at Fuji Speedway in the second WEC Free Practice of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend, its No. 8 TS050 HYBRID again setting the fastest time.

On this occasion though, it was Fernando Alonso who was quickest in the car, after Sebastien Buemi topped FP1. The Spaniard flexed his muscles on the Japanese circuit with a 1m23.973s — 10 years to the day since his win at the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix, which coincidentally was his last trip to the circuit.

Alonso’s time was just under two seconds faster than Buemi’s FP1 pace-setting tour, though the Frenchman’s time from earlier in the day was set on a drying track.

Like Free Practice 1, the second session had to be red flagged for an extended period of time due to issues with the curbing on the circuit. The session had to be red flagged twice in a 20-minute span, with one of the sections of curbing at Turn 13 damaged twice after first a Ford GT, then the a Dempsey Proton Porsche clattered it.

The second impact left two sections of the curb ripped up, leaving the mounting bolts exposed on the track. Under instructions from race director Eduardo Freitas a team of trackside marshals then removed all the curbs at Turn 13 before the action went green again, the entire process taking 55 minutes.

RACER understands that there will be a meeting later today to discuss the matter ahead of tomorrow’s track action.

Behind Alonso, Jose Maria Lopez in the No. 7 Toyota made it a 1-2 for the Japanese marque again, with a 1m25.068s, the lap a full second off Alonso’s flyer.

This time around the fastest privateer runner in the session was the No. 3 Rebellion R-13, young Frenchman Thomas Laurent at the wheel for the lap. SMP Racing’s No. 11 BR1, which was ‘best of the rest’ in FP1, ended up fourth with a 1m25.801s.

The sister No. 17 SMP BR1, meanwhile, ended up sixth. There was a minor drama for the team toward the end of the session, team returnee Matevos Issakyan having an off at 100R, before limping back to the pits just before the session finished.

In LMP2, it was Signatech Alpine which led the way this time, after the team was officially presented with the Le Mans winners trophy by ACO President Pierre Fillon earlier in the day.

Brazilian Andre Negrao set the team’s best time, a 1m30.410s, four tenths quicker than the first of the two Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECAs, which finished the day second and third in the class.

The fastest of the other two LMP2 chassis was the Racing Team Nederland Dallara, which set a time good enough for fifth.

In the GTE Pro ranks there was a change in form for Aston Martin Racing, Nicki Thiim topping the times for the Britsh marque with a 1m37.659s — the best GTE time of the day.

Behind Thiim in the times was the No. 67 Ganassi UK Ford GT. Harry Tincknell managed to extract a 1:37.821 from the car to put it second. Davide Rigon put the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE third in the running with a 1:39.041. And making it four makes in the top four was Richard Lietz in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR.

In GTE Am it was a 1-2 for the Dempsey Proton team, with the No. 88 leading the championship-leading No. 77.

Free Practice 3 is set to begin tomorrow at 9:30 local time, and will run until 11:00am, 30 minutes longer than originally planned to make up the lost time from Free Practice 2.

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