As in the test session a day earlier, the Swiss driver set the fastest time (53.855) ahead of his team-mates Yvan Muller (53.919) and Rob Huff (54.142).
Tiago Monteiro emerged as the best of the rest, driving his Honda Accord to the fourth fastest time of 54.188, meaning the gap between the Japanese car and the leader has already been reduced to three tenths, against yesterday’s one second.
Gabriele Tarquini and his SEAT León ranked fifth with a lap of 54.243 that was exactly matched by Pepe Oriola on his last lap, which enabled the Spanish youngster to top the Yokohama Trophy field.
Oriola’s last-gasp improvement demoted an impressive Hiroki Yoshimoto and his SUNRED León to seventh and second in the Yokohama Trophy. The Japanese driver had been timed at 54.362.
The bamboo-engineering duo of Darryl O’Young (54.364) and Alex MacDowall (54.444) was classified in eight and ninth positions, with Aleksei Dudukalo (54.626) in 10th.
It was a close session, with the 17 fastest cars covered by just one second. Norbert Michelisz was the best of the BMW drivers in 11th place, while James Nash’s Focus was the fastest of the Team Aon Ford cars in 15th.
As the whole field began pushing, a few drivers missed the braking point at Turn 1: Muller, Tom Chilton, Michelisz, Charles Ng, Tom Coronel and Stefano D’Aste all spun wide but rejoined.