RML’s Yvan Muller topped the times during Friday testing for the World Touring Car Championship at the Suzuka East raceway in Japan, beating Tuenti Racing’s Pepe Oriola by 0.022 seconds.
During a close test session the top 19 cars were covered by less than a second, with the top 12 covered by under half a second.
Honda’s Tiago Monteiro ended the session third fastest – having set the early pace in the session the Portugese was pipped to the top time in the closing minutes of the session by both Muller and Oriola.
LADA’s James Thompson was an impressive fourth fastest, ahead of Münnich Motorsport’s Rob Huff in fifth.
Gabriele Tarquini was sixth fastest for Honda at their home circuit, ahead of Brits James Nash and Tom Chilton in their bamboo-engineering and RML Chevrolets in seventh and eighth respectively.
Proteam Racing’s Mehdi Bennani ended the session as the top BMW driver in ninth, with ROAL Motorsport’s Darryl O’Young completing the top ten.
Hiroki Yoshimoto – Michel Nykjær’s replacement at Nika Racing for this weekend – ended the session as the top Japanese driver in 14th, with Takuya Izawa piloting the third works’ Honda to 17th fastest. Yukinori Taniguchi, standing in at Wiechers-Sport for Fredy Barth, ended the session in 23rd as the slowest of the turbo-powered drivers.
The session was red-flagged no less than three times during the 30-minute session. The first stoppage came from Filipe Clemente de Souza, who spun his normally-aspirated Chevrolet Cruze after only five minutes at turn eight, which leads the driver’s back onto the start/finish straight.
Then, after 17 minutes, LADA’s Mikhail Kozlovskiy beeched his car in the gravel trap, bringing about another red-flag period. The final stoppage came when Zengő Motorsport’s Norbert Michelisz spun off with eight minutes remaining. Michelisz ended the session down in 19th.
Several drivers made other smaller mistakes during the session, as driver’s reacquaint themselves with the 2.2 kilometre Suzuka East circuit.
First free practice takes place at 09:00 JST on Saturday 21st September (01:00 BST; 02:00 CEST).