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FIA WEC: Circuit of the Americas, Free Practice 1, Audi, ESM & Aston On Top

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The first 90 minute Free Practice session for the 29 FIA WEC runners threw up a number of talking points, the session starting in bright sunshine, track temperature up to 42 degrees but cooling off to ‘just’ 37 degrees by the end of running at 16:15 local.

In LMP1 there was good running for most of the factory LMP1s, all six LMP1-H runners managing over 30 laps in the session.

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Brendan Hartley was first to to the times when the speed started to come but was overhauled by both Audis as the R18s got into their stride, Marcel Fassler eventually setting fastest time of the session in the #2 Audi with a 1:51.136, just under two tenths quicker than the returning Loic Duval in the #1 car, the #20 Porsche finished the session in third spot.

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The #8 Toyota suffered a brief systems glitch in the closing minutes of the session but after a quick ctrl alt delete moment Davidson was able to continue. The six fctore car were seprted by 1.8 seconds at the end of the session.

There was a more troubled session for the LMP1-L runners, only the #12 Rebellion setting a significant time in the first two thirds of the session (1:57.6) with Christophe Bouchut putting in a short run in the final half hour in the new #9 Lotus, finishing the session on the tail of the LMP2s (2:01.9), and Dominik Kraihamer emerging very late in the session to pop in a time in amongst the P2s (1:59.6).

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In LMP2 Olivier Pla initially headed the order in the G-Drive Ligier Nissan, Ryan Dalziel though leapfrogged the #26 car to head the times pretty convincingly in the #35 ESM HPD – 1:58.111.

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Matt Howson put the KCMG Oreca Nissan third fastest.

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The LMGTE order was initially headed by the factory Porsches but Gimmi Bruni soon took control, the #51 Ferrari posting a 2:06.8, but Darren Turner chipped away at that mark before eventually going faster in the #97 Aston.

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Late in the session though something of an Aston Martin fest broke out – Richie Stanaway putting the #95 car to the top, ahead of the Pro runners with a 2:06.427, he was soon joined by Pedro Lamy, third fastest overall, again in an Am Vantage before Darren Turner returned some order to proceedings, the #97 Aston Martin finishing the session on top with a 2:06.3