Gabriele Tarquini completes a clean sweep in final Motegi practice

Castrol Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini was fastest for the third consecutive session at Twin Ring Motegi, leading Citroën’s Sébastien Loeb with Honda team-mate Tiago Monteiro third in the final 30-minute practice session of the weekend.

Honda and Citroën locked horns during the session, first with José María López setting the fastest time for Citroën before he was deposed by Norbert Michelisz in the Zengő Honda at the start of the session.

After struggling in the first few sessions, the Chevrolet RML Cruzes moved forward in the session, with Tom Chilton as high as second in the early running for ROAL Motorsport. The Briton eventually ended the session ninth, with team-mate Tom Coronel the best placed Chevrolet in fifth.

The only drama of the session was for Lada’s Rob Huff, who ground to a halt with a suspected throttle problem at Turn 10 just after ten minutes into the session.

Ma Qing Hua then moved to the top of the time sheets with a time of 1:58.393, before Tiago Monteiro became the first to break the 1:58 barrier in the session with a time of 1:57.425.

Citroën then grabbed the top spot again with Sébastien Loeb going fastest with just under ten minutes to go, before Gabriele Tarquini took chart, setting the best time of the weekend of 1:56.968, the best time of the weekend so far, almost three-tenths of a second faster than Loeb.

Monteiro finished the session third with Michelisz fourth and the best of the independent entries.

Tom Coronel was the best placed Chevrolet in fifth ahead of Citroën’s Ma Qing Hua, with Nicky Catsburg the best placed Lada in seventh, ahead of the two Chevrolets of Hugo Valente and Tom Chilton, with championship leader José María López completing the top ten, just over a second off of Tarquini’s pace.

Qualifying is next up and gets underway at 15:30 JST.