WTCR Free Practice 2 flash: Kristoffersson and Huff on top
Johan Kristoffersson and Rob Huff completed a Volkswagen one-two in Free Practice 2 at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan as less than a second separated the top 26 cars on the 2.243km Suzuka East Course circuit.
The 30-minute session was interrupted by red flags on two occasions. The first incident occured with 10 minutes to go after Team Mulsanne’s Ma Qinghua lost his Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR’s left-rear wheel on an outlap. “I just exited the pitlane and immediately the wheel was gone,” said the Chinese driver. “The track conditions are very demanding. There is a lot of water. I’m just trying to improve the set-up, but there’s not much you can do on such a short track.”
The session restarted, only for Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Frédéric Vervisch to spin off at Turn 2 and stop the action once again. Vervisch’s Audi just missed SLR Volkswagen’s Kristoffersson, whose Golf GTI TCR was recovering from its own moment off the track.
“It’s quite slippery,” said Vervisch with some understatement. “We were trying things for quallie. It’s not ideal, but for the rest of the time the session was quite positive.” The Belgian, who was second quickest in FP1, ended up fourth fastest this time despite his spin.
Just seven and a half minutes were left as the cars returned to the track, with Kristoffersson setting the best time of the session – 1m59.814s.
“FP1 was quite tricky because we had some technical issues and didn’t do many laps,” said the Swede. “This session was more consistent. I went off to see where the limit is! I had some vibrations, but let’s see what happens in qualifying and see if we can stay on top.”
Behind Kristoffersson and Huff, Cyan Racing Lynk & Co’s Thed Björk was third fastest ahead of Vervisch. ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport’s Esteban Guerrieri was fifth in his Honda Civic Type R TCR, from KCMG’s Tiago Monteiro who continued to show good pace following his crash in Ningbo.
Comtoyou Team Audi Sport’s Niels Langeveld, who had topped FP1, was seventh this time in his Audi, ahead of promising ‘wildcard’ entry Ritomo Miyata in his Audi Team Hitotsuyama RS 3 LMS. PWR Racing’s Mikel Azcona was ninth, with Cyan Performance Lynk & Co’s Andy Priaulx rounding out the top 10.
Next best of the ‘wildcard’ entries was Audi Team Hitotsuyama’s Tomita Ryuichiro in an encouraging P11, ahead of Jean-Karl Vernay and Gabriele Tarquini in the first of the Hyundai i30 N TCRs. His BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse team-mate and #ROADTOMALAYSIA points leader Norbert Michelisz was down in P18, two places behind title rival Yvan Muller.
The first qualifying session of WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan takes place at 13h00 local time.