Free Practice: Fujinami beats Ara to top spot in opening session at Suzuka

Free Practice: Fujinami beats Ara to top spot in opening session at Suzuka

> Result: Free Practice

Japanese teams made their local knowledge count during the first official Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS session at Suzuka today. 

Yogibo Racing’s Kiyoto Fujinami pipped Seiji Ara to fastest time in the closing moments of a Free Practice session that began wet but was largely dry by the end of the hour, while Jun Tashiro set the GT4 pace in Team Scala’s Mercedes-AMG.

Rain hadn’t fallen since earlier in the morning so it wasn’t long before the majority of any lingering moisture cleared. EBM Giga Racing’s Tanart Sathienthirakul initially set something akin to the dry pace but was jumped soon after by Nick Foster who lowered the session’s benchmark to 2m03.290s after 20 minutes.

Thursday’s dry testing times suggested more was to come, but not until a lengthy stoppage – caused by David Pun’s X Works Audi catching fire on track – effectively reduced the session by 10 minutes.

It resumed with just over a third of its duration remaining. And with drivers soon back up to speed, so the fastest time swapped hands between local stars Ara and Fujinami.

The 2004 Le Mans winner sent BMW Team Studie’s new M4 GT3 0.7s quicker than Foster’s Triple Eight JMR Mercedes-AMG but was relieved of top spot by Fujinami with less than 10 minutes remaining. The former Super GT300 champion clocked 2m02.551s, which was just 0.046s faster than Ara’s best.

Foster’s lap remained good enough for third while Porsche Center Okazaki’s Yuta Kamimura made it three Fanatec Japan Cup entries inside the top-four.

EBM Giga Racing’s Porsches completed the top-six with Sathienthirakul ahead of Reid Harker.

Further back, Tashiro’s 2m14.158s helped Team Scala narrowly top the GT4 class from Koshido Racing and Team GMB, both of whom finished within a tenth of the Mercedes-AMG.

Official practice begins at 15:30 JST (+9 GMT).