Toyota took the top two spots in the opening free practice session on home soil at Fuji for this weekend’s penultimate edition of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Sebastien Buemi took the lead with a time of 1m31.171s in the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid during the 90-minute FP1 session as Mike Conway was second with a time of 1m31.418s in the sister Le Mans Hypercar from the Japanese manufacturer.
James Rossiter’s 1m31.439 second performance put him in third place among the Peugeot 9X8 LMHs, just a few hundredths behind the #7 Toyota.
The Hypercar class’ top timings were set early in the session, as Paul di Resta, driving the second Peugeot and finishing fourth, recorded the car’s best time with a lap of 1m31.738s after taking over from Mikkel Jensen.
In the absence of Glickenhaus, the Alpine A480, which had previously won at Monza in July, finished last in a class of only five cars. Nicolas Lapierre’s grandfathered LMP1 car finished more than a second behind the leaders after pre-event Balance of Performance adjustments, which cut the Alpine’s power and lowered the LMH cars’ minimum weights.
Nicklas Nielsen’s Pro/Am-entered AF Corse Oreca 07 set a 1m32.624s at the start of the session to lead the LMP2 field.
With identical times posted by Alex Lynn and Filipe Albuquerque driving the two United Autosports Orecas, he had a lead of just over a tenth above the duo. Lynn finished first in his class after with a time of 1 minute, 32.866 seconds.
Ed Jones’ 1m33.165s in the JOTA #28 car earned it fourth place in P2. James Calado, driving the better of the two 488 GTE Evos powered by AF Corse, led Ferrari to victory in the first GTE Pro practice session. Michael Christensen, who finished in 1m37.892s, had the best factory Porsche 911 RSR-19 time with a time of 1m37.723s.
Richard Lietz, driving the second Manthey-run Porsche, was right behind him with a time of 1m37.962s, while Antonio Fuoco, driving the second AF Ferrari, was in fourth place and four tenths off the lead with a time of 1m38.121s.
The sole Corvette C8.R ended up being more than a second behind the lead after being penalized with a 10kg increase in the minimum weight under the BoP for Fuji. The best time from the American car was a 1m38.829s set by Nick Tandy.
The fastest of the two Project 1 Porsches, driven by Matteo Cairoli, topped in the GTE Am category by barely 0.0003 of a second. In the TF Sport-operated D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE, Tomonobu Fujii ran a faster time (1m39.067s) than he did (1m39.064).