Yvan Muller was fastest in the Friday test session at Suzuka ahead of championship rival Rob Huff, with Chevrolet team-mate Alain Menu completing a Chevrolet 1-2-3. Tiago Monteiro was ninth fastest in the new Honda Civic Super 2000 TC.
The session was red flagged on three occasions, all within the last half of the session. First, when Gabriele Tarquini beached his Lukoil Racing Team SEAT León in the gravel at Turn 4, then again when Alberto Cerqui stranded his ROAL Motorsport BMW 320 TC at Turn 6, and then again as Charles Ng went off at Turn 1 in his Liqui Moly Team Engstler BMW with 30 seconds to go, with the session not resuming.
Muller was just under a tenth of a second faster than team-mate Rob Huff, with Alain Menu just over three-tenths behind.
The fastest independent driver and non-Chevrolet was Pepe Oriola, who was fourth fastest in his SUNRED Engineering SEAT, just ahead of Gabriele Tarquini and Aleksei Dudukalo in the two Lukoil SEATs.
Tom Coronel was the fastest of the BMWs in seventh, just over one second behind on the short circuit, with Alex MacDowall’s Bamboo Chevrolet eighth.
Tiago Monteiro was ninth, 1.018 seconds down in the Honda, with independents’ points leader Norbert Michelisz completing the top ten.
Darryl O’Young was 11th fastest on his return to Bamboo Engineering in the Chevrolet Cruze, whilst his new-to-the-WTCC replacement Réne Münnich was 23rd and last in the short 30 minute session.
Masaki Kano was 22nd fastest in the normally aspirated BMW 320si, whilst Hiroki Yoshimoto was 17th in the SR León 1.6T formerly driven by Monteiro.
The two Arena Fords of James Nash and Tom Chilton were 12th and 14th respectively.
The next practice session is at 9:30am JST on Saturday (1:30am BST).