Ferrari AF Corse’s No. 50 499P topped the first practice session of the FIA WEC’s weekend at Fuji Speedway, which was held on a drying circuit after a bout of heavy rain showers throughout the morning.
Antonio Fuoco set the fastest time, a 1m35.649s at the end of the session, as multiple drivers began to find pace as the conditions improved. It also made it a 1-2 for Ferrari in the times, making for an encouraging start to the meeting for the Italian team on its first trip to Japan with the 499P.
The No. 51 ended up second in the times, with a 1m38.258s from Antonio Giovanazzi.
Best of the rest was the No. 94 Peugeot TotalEnergies 9X8, after a 1m38.693s at the end of the 90-minute run from American Gustavo Menezes. The two Penske Porsche 963s completed the top five after late flyers, with the No. 6 ahead of the No. 5.
The pair of GR010 HYBRIDs from home favourite Toyota Gazoo Racing ended up sixth and seventh, both 3.6 seconds off the best time from Fuoco.
In LMP2, JOTA’s No. 28 ORECA was quickest and notably ran faster than two of the cars in Hypercar — its own Porsche 963 and the Vanwall.
Dane Oliver Rasmussen set the time, a 1m40.781s, which was almost a second up on the rest of the ORECAs in the category. The No. 23 United Autosports and No. 9 examples ended up completing the top three.
GTE saw Dempsey Proton Racing’s No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR 19 end FP1 with the best time, a 1m43.538s courtesy of Mikkel Pedersen, which was quicker than the bottom two LMP2s.
The No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari slotted in second in the category, with the No. 56 Project 1 AO Porsche third. Local team D’Station Racing emerged as the fastest Aston Martin team, with a 1m47.493s to go fifth, a fraction off the No. 83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari that was top early in the session before falling to fourth.
Remarkably, considering the tricky conditions, there were no notable incidents during the session. The weather thus far has been a talking point in the paddock, with typhoon alerts issued locally yesterday. The forecast for the rest of the meeting remains somewhat mixed.