> BMW Team Studie and Team GMB top their classes
> Result: Free Practice
Seiji Ara underlined his vast experience of Okayama by topping the times in opening practice ahead of this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia Powered by AWS season finale.
The Plus with BMW Team Studie M4 GT3 he shares with Tomohide Yamaguchi lowered Nick Foster’s previous benchmark on consecutive laps at one third’s distance just before LMcorsa’s stranded Ferrari necessitated a brief stoppage.
Ara is a regular in Super GT with Team Studie and has accrued countless kilometres around Okayama during his distinguished career, so it was no surprise to see the former Le Mans winner leading the way early on.
Ara’s 1m29.102s lowered his previous best by a tenth and was also good enough to beat championship leader Foster – who finished second – by 0.360s.
The best placed of Triple Eight JMR’s two Mercedes-AMGs was also nine places ahead of title rivals Takeshi Kimura and Kei Cozzolino (CarGuy Racing) who head into this weekend’s season finale tied on points with Foster and Prince Jefri Ibrahim.
Reid Harker was less than a tenth further back in EMB Giga Racing’s leading Porsche, while Tomonobu Fujii’s D’station Aston Martin and ABSSA McLaren driven by Keita Sawa completed a top-five featuring as many different manufacturers.
GT4’s early bragging rights went the way of Team GMB who must overturn a six-point deficit to win the title on Sunday. Shinji Hosokawa’s 1m37.784s was enough to see off CREF’s McLaren, which repeated chipped away at its deficit. 0.135s covered them at the finish.
Championship leaders Brian Lee and Hideto Yasuoka completed the top-three a further three tenths back.
Official practice begins at 15:30 JST today.