Audi’s Niels Langeveld’s lead the way in a very wet first practice session for the FIA World Touring Car Cup at Suzuka, pipping Comtoyou Racing team-mate Frédéric Vervisch by less than a tenth of a second.
Langeveld lapped the 2.243 km circuit in 1 minute 0.153 seconds in wet conditions, as the weekend kicked off in poor weather.
The Dutchman had improved his time late-on in the session, as Audi stole a march in the early running.
The session did not run without incident, however, as Langeveld’s team-mate Aurélien Panis, in one of the Belgian squad’s CUPRAs, went off at Turn 1 with 16 minutes to go, bringing out the red flags and requiring his car to be repaired ahead of Free Practice 2 and qualifying later in the day.
The session resumed with five minutes left and Langeveld rose to the top times of the times ahead of Vervisch.
“I was the first driver going out on track and I said to my team that there was something wrong with the car because down the straight it was moving from left to right – but it was just aquaplaning,” said Langeveld of the conditions.
“But as the session went on I felt quite confident and after the red flag I put everything together to set my lap.”
Gabriele Tarquini was the quickest Hyundai driver in third, ahead of the Volkswagen of Rob Huff in fourth.
Yvan Muller put his Lynk & Co in fifth, whilst Tiago Monteiro was sixth in his Honda, making it five different brands in the top six.
Monteiro is at the wheel of a brand-new Honda Civic this weekend after he suffered a big crash at the last round in China.
Championship leader Norbert Michelisz was just 25th in his Hyundai, almost two seconds off the pace as the Hungarian completed fewer laps than most of the field.
Ritomo Miyata was the best of the wildcard entrants in 12th in his Team Hitotsuyama Audi.
Second practice gets underway at 10:15 local time.
|1||10||Niels LANGEVELD||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||21||1:00.153||0.000|
|2||22||Frédéric VERVISCH||Comtoyou Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||19||1:00.228||0.075|
|3||1||Gabriele TARQUINI||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||16||1:00.487||0.334|
|4||12||Rob HUFF||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||19||1:00.561||0.408|
|5||100||Yvan MULLER||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||20||1:00.576||0.423|
|6||18||Tiago MONTEIRO||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||21||1:00.804||0.651|
|7||69||Jean-Karl VERNAY||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||1:00.842||0.689|
|8||96||Mikel AZCONA||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||23||1:00.911||0.758|
|9||86||Esteban GUERRIERI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||20||1:00.929||0.776|
|10||52||Gordon SHEDDEN||Leopard Racing Team Audi Sport||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||18||1:00.934||0.781|
|11||33||Benjamin LEUCHTER||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||21||1:01.012||0.859|
|12||77||Ritomo MIYATA||Audi Team Hitotsuyama||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||29||1:01.072||0.919|
|13||37||Daniel HAGLÖF||PWR Racing||CUPRA TCR||20||1:01.164||1.011|
|14||111||Andy PRIAULX||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||23||1:01.218||1.065|
|15||21||Aurélien PANIS||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||12||1:01.239||1.086|
|16||31||Kevin CECCON||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||24||1:01.267||1.114|
|17||9||Attila TASSI||KCMG||Honda Civic Type R TCR||21||1:01.292||1.139|
|18||50||Tom CORONEL||Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing||CUPRA TCR||18||1:01.301||1.148|
|19||68||Yann EHRLACHER||Cyan Performance Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||23||1:01.360||1.207|
|20||29||Néstor GIROLAMI||ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R TCR||21||1:01.431||1.278|
|21||55||Ma QING HUA||Team Mulsanne||Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR||22||1:01.447||1.294|
|22||25||Mehdi BENNANI||SLR VW Motorsport||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||20||1:01.464||1.311|
|23||88||Nicky CATSBURG||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||23||1:01.732||1.579|
|24||19||Jim KA TO||KC Motorgroup||Honda Civic Type R TCR||23||1:01.994||1.841|
|25||5||Norbert MICHELISZ||BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse||Hyundai i30 N TCR||15||1:02.007||1.854|
|26||14||Johan KRISTOFFERSSON||SLR Volkswagen||Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR||11||1:02.045||1.892|
|27||7||Ryuichiro TOMITA||Audi Team Hitotsuyama||Audi RS3 LMS TCR||20||1:02.096||1.943|
|28||8||Augusto FARFUS||BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team||Hyundai i30 N TCR||24||1:02.109||1.956|
|29||11||Thed BJÖRK||Cyan Racing Lynk & Co||Lynk & Co 03 TCR||23||1:02.363||2.210|