FP1: Picariello and Moh help Craft-Bamboo finish one-two at Fuji

5 July 2019

> Chong tops GT4 for iRace.Win
> Result: FP1

Craft-Bamboo’s Mercedes-AMGs finished one-two in the first of Friday’s two practice sessions at Fuji Speedway after Alessio Picariello and Melvin Moh lapped just 0.003s apart.

In GT4, iRace.Win’s Ringo Chong set the pace after producing two laps fast enough for top spot.

A red flag with just over 10 minutes remaining ultimately brought the 45-minute session to an early end, but not before Craft-Bamboo had stamped their authority all over proceedings.

Moh was the first to set a competitive lap time, and produced two more to then shift Yuta Kamimura who had briefly moved ARN’s Porsche into prime position. However, Picariello – who won last time out at Suzuka – subsequently produced a lap of 1m41.774s to deny his Malaysian team-mate by just three thousandths of a second.

Kamimura, who also enjoyed a strong outing on home soil at Suzuka, finished 0.270s behind the Belgian, while Absolute Racing’s Weiron Tan and Martin Rump were the best-placed Pro/Am and Audi crew in fourth.

Chris van der Drift’s JR-M Porsche was next up, but only by 0.003s from Anstone Racing’s Naoki Yokomizo who won at Fuji two years ago. HubAuto Corsa’s championship-chasing Ferrari and the X Works Audi driven by 2017 runner-up Shaun Thong completed the top-eight.

This season’s other championship contenders kept a low profile in the first session. Points’ leaders Philip Hamprecht and Tanart Sathienthirakul (Absolute Racing) finished 13th, one place behind Solite Indigo Racing’s MG Choi and Manuel Metzger.

There was something of a surprise in GT4 where home favourites Team Studie were beaten to top spot by Team iRace.Win’s Mercedes-AMG driven by Ringo Chong who set two laps quick enough for first place.

The Singaporean’s second effort was almost 0.7s faster than Takayuki Kinoshita could manage in the BMW and another three tenths clear of Birth Racing Project’s Mercedes-AMG, which has joined the championship for a one-off outing this weekend.

Craft-Bamboo’s David Pun and Jean Marc Merlin weren’t far behind in fourth.

Friday’s second practice session begins at 15:55 JST (GMT +9).