Nestor Girolami set the pace on his return to the WTCC in Japan, the Argentinian was fastest of all on his first flying lap in the Volvo, finishing the 30-minute session nearly a second-and-a-half clear of his nearest rival, Lada’s Nicky Catsburg.
Girolami, returning to the championship after a year away, showed blistering pace in the Volvo S60, which is the lightest car on track this weekend after the latest compensation weight calculations by the FIA.
The Argentinian followed in the footsteps of his countryman Esteban Guerrieri, who was also fastest in practice last month in Argentina.
Girolami was fastest ahead of Catsburg, with Volvo team-mate Thed Bjork third fastest, confirming good pace from the Swedish marque in Japan.
Behind them was the fastest of the Citroen drivers, Yvan Muller, with the Frenchman just over a tenth of a second ahead of teammate Jose Maria Lopez.
Gabriele Tarquini was sixth for Lada ahead of teammate and overnight father Hugo Valente, with the three Lada Vestas showing strong pace as well.
Things weren’t so great in the session for Honda, with Rob Huff their top representative in eighth position at their home circuit, with the Honda carrying the maximum compensation weight this weekend.
Honda teammate Tiago Monteiro was ninth fastest, with the privateer Chevrolet of John Filippi completing the top ten with a last-minute improvement.
Norbert Michelisz and WTCC newcomer Ryo Michigami finished just outside of the top ten in 11th and 12th, with the remaining privateer entries filling out the final positions, led by independents' points leader Mehdi Bennani in the Sebastien Loeb Racing Citroen C-Elysee.
|5||Jose Maria Lopez||Citroën||10||1'58.302||1.865|
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes