5ZIGEN fastest in opening practice at Suzuka

5ZIGEN fastest in opening practice at Suzuka

> Result: Official Practice 1

Shintaro Kawabata topped a red-flag interrupted first official practice session at Suzuka where barrier repairs following Andrew Haryanto’s accident necessitated a lengthy delay halfway through the hour.

20 minutes remained when the action resumed but no-one could match Team 5ZIGEN’s Nissan, which set its benchmark time on just its third flying lap.

Kawabata also topped Thursday’s opening test session. But although his Official Practice 1 lap – 2m01.758s – was quicker, he and the rest of the 36-car field finished over a second down on Maximilian Goetz’s Thursday afternoon time.

Still, the GT-R GT3 was at least 0.3s quicker than its nearest OP1 rival, CREF Motor Sport’s Atsushi Miyake, whose McLaren was raced by Mika Hakkinen at the Suzuka 10 Hours.

The spread of times behind indicated just how much of a hindrance the lengthy stoppage had been to each team’s run plan. Tomo Fujii (D’station Racing Aston Martin) was another half-second back but 0.3s ahead of Edoardo Liberati’s KCMG Honda, which beat Climax Racing’s Mercedes-AMG driven by Dennis Lind to sixth.

Mikkel Mac and Phantom Pro’s Audi was next up, while Klaus Bachler – who is deputising for championship leader Alessio Picariello in AAS Motorsport by Absolute Racing’s Porsche – completed a top-seven featuring as many different manufacturers.

Just one Toyota remains in the GT4 class following the testing accident that resulted in K-Tunes’ withdrawal. But Akiland’s GR Supra, driven by Ryohei Sakaguchi, emerged fastest of the contenders by half-a-second.

The day’s second hour-long practice session now begins 10 minutes later than planned at 15:30 local time.