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Kobayashi Leads FP3; All Marques in GTE-Pro Top Five

Toyota commands final practice at Fuji as GTE-Pro class tightens up…

Photo: Toyota

Kamui Kobayashi led a third consecutive 1-2 for Toyota in final practice for the 6 Hours of Fuji, while five different manufacturers made it into the GTE-Pro top five.

Kobayashi’s time of 1:24.589 behind the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid eclipsed the early effort set by Fernando Alonso in the sister car.

Alonso settled for second, half a second down on his team-mate, but the Spaniard’s fastest lap from FP2 holds out as the quickest so far this weekend.

The fastest LMP1 non-hybrid entry was the No. 17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER in which Egor Orudzhev clocked a time of 1:25.675, just over a second off the pace.

The Russian driver struck late on to pip the two Rebellion R13 Gibsons by four tenths, while Jenson Button lapped sixth-fastest in the other SMP car.

Meanwhile, DragonSpeed’s BR1 Gibson moved closer to the two-car LMP1 entries when Ben Hanley turned in the seventh-best time of 1:26.515.

Quickest in LMP2 was the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson of Jazeman Jaafar.

In GTE-Pro, quick lap times were exchanged throughout the session as all five manufacturers exchanged places at the sharp end of the class.

At the end, Kevin Estre put the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR on top ahead of Harry Tincknell in the second-placed No. 67 Ford GT, as the top cars from each manufacturer were separated by 0.325 seconds.

Marco Sorensen ran third for Aston Martin ahead of AF Corse Ferrari’s Davide Rigon, while BMW Team MTEK driver Tom Blomqvist rounded out the top five after leading much of FP3.

In GTE-Am, Ben Barker led the way in the Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR.

Final practice ran for an additional half-hour to make up for the time lost under red flag conditions during FP1 and FP2 caused by damage to the new Fuji Speedway curbing.

Qualifying for the 6 Hours of Fuji takes place today at 2 p.m local time.

RESULTS: Free Practice 3

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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