No. 7 Toyota tops final Fuji practice; tight battle in GTE Pro

Image by Peter May/LAT

No. 7 Toyota tops final Fuji practice; tight battle in GTE Pro

Le Mans/WEC

No. 7 Toyota tops final Fuji practice; tight battle in GTE Pro

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s TS050 HYBRIDs continued to dominate the privateer LMP1 competition in the final FIA WEC practice session of the weekend at Fuji Speedway, ending up first and second in the order once again, a full second clear of the rest.

The best time in the extended session came from Kamui Kobayashi. The local hero’s best time was a 1m24.589s, putting the No. 7 first in the order for the first time this weekend. His lap was, however, six tenths slower than Fernando Alonso’s best time from yesterday in the sister car, which was set in the second practice session.

Results

The No. 8 ended up second, with the fastest of the privateer runners the No. 17 SMP Racing BR1, 1.086 slower than the lead Toyota in third.

In LMP2, the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA led the way, with a 1m29.352s from Jazeman Jaafar, which was two tenths faster than the rest of the field. The No. 28 TDS Racing ORECA ended up second but didn’t have a clean session; Jean-Eric Vergne had an off at Turn 1, which damaged the car’s front end and forced the Frenchman into the pits for a nose change.

GTE Pro meanwhile, was the most intriguing class in the field. There was just over three tenths separating the top five, which featured a car from each of the five manufacturers.

In the end, the No. 92 Porsche 991 RSR was on top, with a 1m36.851s from Kevin Estre. The No. 7 Ford slotted in second, with the No. 95 Aston Martin third. Just outside the top three was the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari, ahead of the No. 82 BMW – which led the session at one point but ended up fifth.

Four of the five marques led the session at various points; Ferrari was the odd one out.

Gulf Racing ensured that Porsche ran fastest in both classes in GTE Am, with a 1m37.709s by Ben Barker.

Further down the order, there were dramas in the class for the No. 90 TF Sport Aston Martin. Turkish racer Salih Yoluc suffered a front-left puncture after locking up heavily at Turn 1.

The Aston then brought out red flags just before the end of the session. Charlie Eastwood pulled over to the side of the circuit after the car’s fire extinguisher went off. It ended up ninth in the classification.

Next up is qualifying at 14:00 local time (1 a.m. ET Saturday).

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