Conditions improved for Friday afternoon’s practice session for the Motegi GT Grand Final at Twin Ring Motegi, and the #36 au TOM’s Lexus RC-F (Daisuke Ito/Nick Cassidy) went fastest in the GT500 class, thanks to a well-timed lap from the Kiwi rookie Cassidy on slick tyres.
GT300 saw the #4 Goodsmile Hatsune Miku Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Nobuteru Taniguchi/Tatsuya Kataoka) lead a 1-2-3 lockout for the Silver Arrows at the top of the time sheets.
Due to the heavy rain and frequent stoppages from the morning practice sessions, the afternoon practice session was extended from 1 hour, to 1 hour and 40 minutes in length.
The conditions gradually improved, and in fact, allowed some teams to run on slick tyres with 30 minutes left in the session. Cassidy set his best lap time of a 1:41.697, but no other teams could better that mark. Light showers rolled over Motegi soon afterwards, giving no other cars a chance to do a hot lap on slick tyres. All of the teams spent the final few minutes of practice in their garages.
The #12 Calsonic Impul Nissan GT-R (Hironobu Yasuda/Joao Paulo de Oliveira) was second-fastest in GT500, followed by the #15 Drago Modulo Honda NSX (Hideki Mutoh/Tadasuke Makino) in what will be the Drago team’s final race weekend.
Mercedes-AMG GT3s took the top three positions in GT300 practice, led by the Hatsune Miku AMG of Goodsmile Racing, who have always performed well at Twin Ring Motegi, with a best time of 1:50.121 from Kataoka on slick tyres.
The #65 Leon Cvstos AMG (Haruki Kurosawa/Naoya Gamou) finished second, and the #11 Gainer Tanax AMG (Katsuyuki Hiranaka/Björn Wirdheim) was third quickest.
FIA GT3 category cars locked out the top five places in GT300, but leading the JAF-GT contingent with a very surprising 6th place was the #5 Mach Syaken Toyota 86 MC (Tetsuji Tamanaka/Masami Kageyama), by far Team Mach’s best result in an official session in 2016!
However, an engine issue may have dire consequences for one of the championship contenders, the #55 ARTA BMW M6 GT3 (Shinichi Takagi/Takashi Kobayashi) suffering a suspected ECU failure with symptoms lingering from the last round in Buriram, Thailand.
The conditions will be much better for Saturday and Sunday’s qualifying and race sessions, but with teams getting very little running on slick tyres, they face a lot of unknowns heading into Saturday.