WEC Fuji: Toyota fastest in FP1 as Alpine struggles

Toyota blocked out the top two positions in the opening session of free practice on home ground at Fuji for this weekend’s penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

WEC Fuji: Toyota fastest in FP1 as Alpine struggles

Sebastien Buemi led the way in the 90-minute FP1 session with a 1m31.171s aboard the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, which gave him a margin of two tenths over Mike Conway’s 1m31.418s in the second of the Japanese manufacturer’s Le Mans Hypercars.

The best of the Peugeot 9X8 LMHs ended up only a couple of hundredths behind the #7 Toyota, James Rossiter setting a 1m31.439s to take third position in the times.

The fastest times in the Hypercar class were set at the start of the session, while Paul di Resta in fourth place aboard the second Peugeot posted the car’s best lap of 1m31.738s after taking over from Mikkel Jensen.

The Alpine A480, which won last time out at Monza in July, brought up the rear of a class that numbers just five cars in the absence of Glickenhaus.

Nicolas Lapierre’s 1m32.556s in the grandfathered LMP1 car left it more than a second off the pace after pre-event Balance of Performance changes, which have reduced the power of the Alpine and lowered the minimum weights of the LMH cars.

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The LMP2 field was led by the Pro/Am-entered AF Corse ORECA 07 in which Nicklas Nielsen set a 1m32.624s at the start of the session. 

That gave him a margin of a shade more than a tenth over the two United Autosports ORECAs, which set identical times in the hands of Alex Lynn and Filipe Albuquerque. Lynn posted his 1m32.866s lap first, so was classified second in class.

Jota claimed fourth in LMP2 courtesy of a 1m33.165s from Ed Jones in its #28 car. 

Ferrari was on top in the opening practice session in GTE Pro, James Calado leading the way in the best of the two AF Corse-run 488 GTE Evos. 

#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO GTE-PRO: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado

#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE EVO GTE-PRO: Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

His 1m37.723s put him just over a tenth up on the best of the factory Porsche 911 RSR-19s in which Michael Christensen ended up on 1m37.892s.

Richard Lietz was close behind in the second of the Manthey-run Porsches on 1m37.962s, while Antonio Fuoco was within four tenths of the pace in fourth position with a 1m38.121s in the second AF Ferrari. 

The solo Corvette C8.R ended up more than a second off the pace after being hit with a 10kg increase in minimum weight under the BoP for Fuji. A 1m38.829s from Nick Tandy stood as the best time from the American car. 

Matteo Cairoli took the top spot in GTE Am by just three thousandths of a second aboard the fastest of the two Project 1 Porsches.

His 1m39.064s compared with Tomonobu Fujii’s 1m39.067s in the TF Sport-run D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

WEC 6 Hours of Fuji - First practice results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Time Gap
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Japan Ryo Hirakawa
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'31.171  
2 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota GR010 - Hybrid HYPERCAR 1'31.418 0.247
3 94 France Loic Duval
United States Gustavo Menezes
United Kingdom James Rossiter
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR 1'31.439 0.268
4 93 United Kingdom Paul di Resta
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
France Jean-Eric Vergne
Peugeot 9X8 HYPERCAR 1'31.738 0.567
5 36 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Nicolas Lapierre
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
Alpine A480 HYPERCAR 1'32.556 1.385
6 83 France François Perrodo
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Italy Alessio Rovera
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'32.624 1.453
7 23 United Kingdom Alex Lynn
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
United States Josh Pierson
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'32.866 1.695
8 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
United States Will Owen
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'32.866 1.695
9 28 Denmark Oliver Rasmussen
United Arab Emirates Ed Jones
South Africa Jonathan Aberdein
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'33.165 1.994
10 31 Indonesia Sean Gelael
Netherlands Robin Frijns
Belgium Dries Vanthoor
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'33.258 2.087
11 10 Netherlands Renger van der Zande
Ireland Ryan Cullen
France Sébastien Bourdais
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'33.271 2.100
12 1 France Lilou Wadoux
France Paul-Loup Chatin
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'33.403 2.232
13 9 Poland Robert Kubica
Switzerland Louis Deletraz
Italy Lorenzo Colombo
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'33.715 2.544
14 41 Portugal Rui Andrade
Austria Ferdinand Habsburg
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'33.855 2.684
15 45 United States Thomas Steven
Australia James Allen
Austria Rene Binder
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'34.054 2.883
16 38 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'34.198 3.027
17 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Mexico Esteban Gutierrez
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'34.421 3.250
18 35 France Jean Baptiste Lahaye
France Matthieu Lahaye
France François Heriau
Oreca 07 LMP2 1'34.617 3.446
19 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 1'37.723 6.552
20 92 Denmark Michael Christensen
France Kevin Estre
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 1'37.892 6.721
21 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 1'37.962 6.791
22 52 Spain Miguel Molina
Italy Antonio Fuoco
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 1'38.121 6.950
23 64 United States Tommy Milner
United Kingdom Nick Tandy
Chevrolet Corvette C8.R LMGTE PRO 1'38.829 7.658
24 46 Italy Matteo Cairoli
Denmark Mikkel Pedersen
Switzerland Nicolas Leutwiler
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'39.064 7.893
25 777 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Japan Tomonobu Fujii
United Kingdom Charlie Fagg
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'39.067 7.896
26 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
United Kingdom David Pittard
Denmark Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'39.313 8.142
27 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'39.337 8.166
28 71 France Franck Dezoteux
France Pierre Ragues
France Gabriel Aubry
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'39.405 8.234
29 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
Italy Riccardo Pera
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'39.443 8.272
30 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Davide Rigon
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'39.489 8.318
31 56 Japan Takeshi Kimura
United Kingdom Ollie Millroy
United Kingdom Ben Barnicoat
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'39.622 8.451
32 85 Switzerland Rahel Frey
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Belgium Sarah Bovy
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'39.709 8.538
33 33 United States Ben Keating
Portugal Henrique Chaves Jr.
Denmark Marco Sorensen
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 1'39.768 8.597
34 77 Germany Christian Ried
United Kingdom Sebastian Priaulx
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'39.959 8.788
35 21 France Simon Mann
Switzerland Christoph Ulrich
Finland Toni Vilander
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 1'40.287 9.116
36 88 United States Fred Poordad
United States Patrick Lindsey
Belgium Jan Heylen
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE AM 1'40.299 9.128
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Toyota not ruling out team orders in Fuji WEC race
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WEC Fuji: Toyota stays on top in second practice
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