The #29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS of Connor De Phillippi, Chris Mies, Markus Winkelhock and Kelvin van der Linde ran fastest in the sole Nürburgring 24 Hours Free Practice session ahead of Qualifying 1 later today. Van der Linde was the fastest of the quartet, lapping the circuit in 8:19.066, six seconds clear of the other SP9 class runners.
“It was the Free Practice,” his teammate Winkelhock said, “so we weren’t pushing too hard, but to finish top is nice, the car works very well.”
“I was driving relaxed,” added van der Linde, who with his teammates managed seven laps of the circuit in the two-hour session.
Behind, the #10 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi of Nico Müller, Frank Stippler, Rene Rast and Frederic Vervisch slotted in second with a 8:25.143 tour, making it a 1-2 for Audi.
Third on the road was the Falken Motorsports Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister, Dirk Werner, Laurens Vanthoor and Martin Ragginger, making the team fastest of the other marques in SP9. The 911 GT3 R finished with a 8:26.440 as its best lap.
The top five was completed by the #9 WRT Audi of Nico Müller, Marcel Fässler, Robin Frijns and Rast in fourth and the fastest of the nine BMW M6 GT3s – the #42 Schnitzer machine of Augusto Farfus, Martin Tomczyk, Marco Wittmann and Tom Blomqvist which managed a 8:27.552.
The best of the three Abt Bentley Continental GT3s – the #38 of Christer Jöns, Christian Mamerow, Jordan Pepper and Christopher Brück finished the afternoon sixth.
It was a quiet opening session for Mercedes, its fastest AMG GT3 finishing up 10th on the overall leaderboard. The #50 HTP Motorsport car led the way for the Stuttgart-based brand, its time over 10 seconds off the ultimate pace. At this stage though, little can be read into the pace of the front-runners, who are unlikely to show off their ultimate pace until the race.
Quickest of the non-SP9 runners was the #35 GTRonix Renault R.S.01 – which is competing in the SPX class – down in 20th overall, with a fastest lap of 9:00.021. It was 10 spots clear of the nearest SPX challenger – the #704 Glickenhaus SCG003C – down in 30th overall.
It was a relatively trouble free session for most of the field, though one of the front-runners did have a scare at the very end. The #8 Haribo Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 was caught on camera with its bonnet up on its in-lap, there appeared to be little other visible damage to the car however.
The first of the three Qualifying sessions gets underway later today at 20:05 local time in Germany.