NÜRBURGRING – Audi kicked off its home weekend in style by topping the opening practice session for the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on Friday afternoon.
For the first time since its formation, the FIA World Endurance Championship has graced the historic German circuit, which is the site of the series’ resumption following the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Just as it was at the Circuit de la Sarthe, this weekend’s race is shaping up to be a fight between Audi and Porsche once again as the two German marques locked out the top four positions in a damp first free practice session.
The no. 7 car of Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer topped the timesheets with a best lap of 1:39.201, edging out the no. 18 Porsche of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani by just 0.079 seconds.
Audi’s no. 8 piloted by Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi and Loic Duval followed home in third place, seven-tenths of a second adrift of its sister car. Once again, Porsche finished narrowly behind as the no. 17 of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard finish five-thousands of a second down.
Toyota once again struggled to match the pace of its German rivals as its cars limped home to fifth and sixth overall, over 2.5 seconds behind the pace set by the front-runners.
In LMP2, G-Drive continued its strong 2015 form as the no. 28 and no. 26 cars went one-two. The all-British line-up of Nick Levants, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane in Strakka Racing’s no. 42 car.
In GTE Pro, AF Corse also managed to go one-two with its pair of Ferraris. Defending GT champions Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander set the pace in the no. 51 car despite having a brief off at the first corner early in the session, and were followed by the no. 71 of Davide Rigon and James Calado, four-tenths of a second behind.
AF Corse also led the way in GTE Am with the no. 83 car of François Period, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas finishing two-tenths of a second clear of Aston Martin Racing’s no. 98. The no. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing car, which has Le Mans winner Earl Bamber in its crew for this weekend, rounded out the top three.