Snow disrupts Toyota tyre test at Fuji; Rosenqvist runs for Team LeMans

Toyota Techno Craft (TTC) took five of their supported cars from the Autobacs Super GT Series, as well as TOM’s two cars from the All-Japan Formula 3 Championship and the FIA F4 Japanese Championship, to Fuji Speedway for a private test primarily for the GT500 cars.

Four Lexus LC500s, plus a lone GT300 class Lexus RC F GT3, were on hand for the test which was interrupted by a flurry of snow on a cold January morning at the circuit.

The #6 Wako’s 4CR LC500, one of four Lexus sporting their revised 2018 aero package, set the fastest time of the test with a 1:28.483 – but it was an eagle-eyed observer who spotted the biggest story of the test: Felix Rosenqvist, the current FIA Formula E Championship leader, driving the blue and pink number 6.

Syunsuke Ikejima spotted Rosenqvist at the wheel of the Wako’s LC500, just days before the 26-year-old Swede ventures to Daytona International Speedway for the Rolex 24 at Daytona:

The “ROSE” in “Rosenqvist” on the left side of his helmet is visible enough from the photo taken by Ryuji Hirano of AUTOSPORTweb, who was at Fuji covering the test.

Since December, Rosenqvist has been heavily linked to replace Andrea Caldarelli at Lexus Team Wako’s LeMans – the same organisation for which he drove for in Super GT last season. With Toyota Gazoo Racing expected to announce their global racing activities, including their Super GT roster, in two weeks time – it’s now very likely that the “Super Swede” will be making his debut in the series in 2018.

© Ryuji Hirano

The KeePer TOM’s LC500 of Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy finished second, now carrying the champion’s number one for the first time in 2018, followed by the #39 Denso Kobelco SARD LC500 (Heikki Kovalainen) and the #38 ZENT Cerumo LC500 (Yuji Tachikawa/Hiroaki Ishiura).

© Ryuji Hirano

Taking to the track for the first time in its new colours was the #96 K-Tunes Racing Lexus RC F GT3 (Yuichi Nakayama/Morio Nitta), also running Bridgestone tyres, at the same track where this team won at the Fuji 500km last may.

Sho Tsuboi and Ritomo Miyata drove TOM’s two Formula 3 cars, while the next generation of Toyota young stars also took to the track in the FIA F4 cars: Kazuto Kotaka, and Sora Ogawa, both drivers 18 years of age.

© Toshikazu Moriyama

Snow halted the session after just one hour, with teams complaining of poor grip and braking ability particularly into the first hairpin corner.

The official Super GT pre-season tests are to be held March 17-18 at Okayama International Circuit, site of the first round of the championship on April 7-8.


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