Following a short on-track session for the return of the traditional Fuji FIA WEC Circuit Safari (where the race cars take to the track at the same time as fans in coaches), the final 60 minutes of Free Practice took ahead of tomorrow’s 6 Hours.
Once again it was Toyota Gazoo Racing that topped the times, thanks to Brendon Hartley in the No. 8 with a 1m29.865s. The time was just under a tenth of a second up on the session topping time from team-mate Kamui Kobayashi in yesterday’s FP2 session.
The No. 8 Toyota though, was trailed not by the sister car, but by the pair of Peugeot 9X8s. It was a promising session for the French factory team ahead of qualifying. Jean-Eric Vergne was second fastest in the session with the No. 93, with a time well over half a second faster than the car’s previous best of the weekend, with the sister No. 94 a few tenths further back in the hands of Loic Duval.
The No. 36 Alpine was fourth fastest, leaving the No. 7 Toyota fifth, 1.6 seconds off Hartley’s best time.
LMP2 saw a second consecutive session topped by Jota, the No. 38 of Antonio Felix da Costa posting a 1m31.822s which held firm through the session, most closely challenged by Vector Sport’s ORECA of Sebastien Bourdais.
In GTE Pro, a Porsche was on top for the first session of the meeting so far.
Gianmaria Bruni in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 topped the class with a 1m36.883, 0.226 seconds better than the No. 51 Ferrari (which has topped both other FP sessions) James Calado providing the Ferrari’s best time of the session.
The second AF Corse Ferrari, No. 64 Corvette and No. 92 Porsche completed the order in the GTE category for factories.
The sessions so far have seen one-two performance from Toyota, Jota, AF Corse and Iron Lynx and that list was added to in FP3 by the German GTE Am outfit Team Project 1.
Ben Barnicoat put the No. 56 Project 1 Posche top of the times with a 1m38.801s, just edging out Matteo Cairoli in the sister No. 46.
The No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche was a later starter to the session after Harry Tincknell suffered a left-rear suspension problem at the end of the Circuit Safari session.