Sebastien Buemi set the early pace for Toyota Gazoo Racing in opening practice for the 6 Hours of Fuji on Friday as the Japanese manufacturer came quickly out of the blocks to start its home race weekend.
Despite being hit with a reduction in hybrid power and petrol energy per lap following its victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Silverstone last month, Toyota remained at the head of the field through FP1, albeit just two-tenths of a second clear of the leading privateer LMP1 car.
Buemi recorded a fastest lap time of 1m27.373s early in the session to take top spot in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, beating Rebellion Racing's Norman Nato in the #1 R13 Gibson by 0.286s after the Frenchman put in a late lap to break up Toyota's one-two.
Kamui Kobayashi dropped to third in the #7 Toyota as a result of Nato's effort as he finished four-tenths off Buemi’s benchmark, while the pair of Team LNT Ginettas took fourth and fifth through Ben Hanley and Charlie Robertson respectively.
High Class Racing managed to lead the way in LMP2 through Kenta Yamashita in the #33 Oreca 07 Gibson, finishing seven-tenths of a second clear of Nyck de Vries in the #29 Racing Team Nederland entry. Cool Racing took P3 in class, a further two-tenths off the pace.
Following its victory at Silverstone, Porsche continued to set the pace in GTE-Pro as Gianmaria Bruni headed up a one-two finish for the German marque in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, his lap of 1m38.315s one-tenth of a second up on that of Michael Christensen in the sister #92 Porsche. Davide Rigon took third in class for AF Corse in the #71 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.
TF Sport topped GTE-Am through Jonny Adam in #90 Aston Martin, edging out Ken Cozzolino in MR Racing’s #70 Ferrari by 0.029 seconds to lead the class.