Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No. 7 GR010 HYBRID set the fastest time of the final WEC practice session at Fuji Speedway. Kamui Kobayashi, with times improving dramatically throughout the 60 minutes as the track dried after light rain throughout the morning, set a 1m30.068s with eight minutes to go, putting him 0.4s clear of the rest of the field.
The No. 94 Peugeot 9X8 came closest to the No. 7 Toyota with a 1m30.476s to go second. The No. 38 HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche, which sat atop the screens multiple times during the session, completed the top three with a 1m30.501s.
Further down the Hypercar order, it was a more encouraging session for the other privateer Porsche 963 run by Proton Competition, ending up fifth, just 0.6s off, faster than both Ferrari 499Ps which ended up sixth and 11th.
In LMP2, United Autosports’ No. 23 ORECA set the pace with a 1m34.258s. The sister No. 22 ended up third, within 0.1s of the No. 38 Alpine that slotted in second.
AF Corse’s No. 54 Ferrari, meanwhile, ran fastest in GTE Am after a 1m39.074s from Davide Rigon. The D’Station Aston Martin ended up second, with the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche third.
Beyond a number of minor off-track excursions from drivers pushing too hard in the conditions, there was one notable incident during the session at Turn 1, 25 minutes in.
Fabio Scherer in the No. 34 Inter Europol Competition ORECA made a mistake in a move up the inside of the Am-topping No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari driven at the time by Francesco Castellacci. Scherer braked too late, lost the rear and swiped the side of the Ferrari just before the apex.
While the damage to the ORECA was minimal, the Ferrari was left with a right-rear puncture from the contact.
“He was on cold tires and on the first lap he was a bit too optimistic to try and pass,” said Castellacci after climbing out of the car. “He had no grip to stop the car and hit me. It was a mistake from him. The suspension seems OK though.”
Qualifying is set to get underway later Saturday at 2:40 p.m. local time, 1:40 a.m. ET.
Full results to come