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Toyota sent out an ominous message to its World Endurance Championship rivals during the first day of free practice for the 6 Hours of Shanghai in China.
Though FP2 would be curtailed by a torrential rain storm, the championship leading duo of Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi were still comfortably quickest in both sessions, ahead of the sister #7 TS040 Hybrid of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima.
Another strong result for Toyota in China could see it take a critical step towards the WEC title this weekend, not least If Audi cannot close the current gap in the races, the #1 and #2 R18 e-trons third and fourth but more than a second off the pace. Similarly, Porsche's first experience of the Chinese venue was a modest one, with the #20 and #14 cars fifth and sixth in both sessions.
Fresh from its first win with the closed-roof Ligier JS P2 in Japan, the G-Drive entry of Julian Canal, Roman Rusinov and Olivier Pla topped LMP2 in both sessions, ahead of the wild-card Extreme Speed Motorsports ARX, which returns to WEC action this weekend after a successful maiden outing at COTA.
In the GT class, the 8 Star Ferrari of Matteo Cressoni, Paolo Ruberti and Gianluca Roda emerged quickest from the two practice sessions, ahead of fellow GTE Am contenders Prospeed Porsche. Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke led the GTE Pro category for Aston Martin, ahead of Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki in the Porsche.