Sebastien Buemi set the pace for Toyota in opening practice for this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Fuji Speedway, finishing almost half a second clear of co-driver Fernando Alonso on Friday.

Completing the opening stint of the 90-minute practice session behind the wheel of the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Buemi managed to turn in a fastest lap of 1m25.847s that was not bettered before the end of the session.



Following a red flag period for track repairs that lasted half an hour, Buemi handed the reins of his car over to Formula 1 racer Alonso, who could only lap 0.488 seconds slower than his Swiss teammate’s benchmark.

Despite a tweak to the Equivalence of Technology regulations for Fuji in a bid to draw the privateer LMP1 teams closer to the Toyota hybrids, the Japanese manufacturer managed to clinch a one-two finish in FP1 as the #7 car finished second overall, Kamui Kobayashi finishing 0.534 seconds off Buemi’s time.

2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button finished third overall for SMP Racing and as the fastest non-hybrid driver in the #11 BR Engineering BR1 AER, one second down on Buemi and three-tenths of a second clear of the next-best privateer driver, Neel Jani in the #1 Rebellion R13 Gibson.

LMP2 saw Mathieu Vaxiviere set the pace for TDS Racing in the #28 Oreca 07 Gibson with a best time of 1m30.360s, finishing one second clear of Stephane Richelmi in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry. Anthony Davidson took P3 in class for DragonSpeed in the #31 Oreca.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing led the way in GTE-Pro via Stefan Mücke in the #66 Ford GT as the German finished two-tenths of a second clear of Gianmaria Bruni in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR. Bruni was closely tailed by teammate Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche, two-tenths of a second further back.

Pedro Lamy topped GTE-Am for Aston Martin Racing with a best lap of 1m39.763s, edging out Dempsey-Proton Racing’s Matt Campbell by one-tenth of a second.


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