The #4 Graff Racing Norma M30 set the pace in the official test session of the 2018 Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Driven by Australian racer Jake Parsons, the LMP3 car he shares with James Winslow and Neale Muston topped the times early on with a time of 2m 08.005s and remained there for the rest of the three-hour evening session with the bet of the GT3 cars a couple of seconds back from the top three, all LMP3s.
The Graff Racing team’s sister #39 Norma M30 set the second-best time.
The defending champion car #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 was the quickest of the GT classes, with factory driver Davide Rigon setting his fastest time of 2m 10.120s at the end of the session, to finish in fourth position overall.
Fastest of the 2019 spec GT3 cars was the #99 Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Stanislav Minsky, Klaus Bachler and Nick Foster, Foster setting a best time of 2:10.427s to sit fifth fastest overall.
The #97 Oman Racing Vantage GT3 the quickest of the Aston Martin cars in the hands of Jonny Adam in ninth, with the #5 McLaren 720S GT3 finishing 10th overall after a power steering niggle cost the team time mid session.
GT4 was topped by the pair of Bullitt Racing AMG GT4s, Ian Loggie fastest in the #3 with a 2:21.665 ahead of Andy Meyrick in the sister #66 and Tom Canning in the new #95 Aston.
There were a couple of Red Flag interventions for the session, one for the #95 Aston Martin GT4, stopped out on track after suffering a puncture, the other for a stationary #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari, neither anything other than a short-term mini drama.
Friday’s Free Practice sessions begin at 09:30 with the qualifying sessions beginning at 16:05hrs GST.
Jake Parsons (#4 Graff Racing Norma M30): “This is my first time with the team, and first time in the Norma car. I’ve driven two races in an LMP3 car before but none at Yas Marina Circuit before.
“This track is pretty phenominal, the layout quality of it especially. At night time the visibility it’s particularly good, it’s not a problem. The car performs a little better in the evening due to the lower track and ambient temperature, so you’re able to get more out of the tyres and engine when it’s cooler.
“Although there was a little traffic, I managed to get a clear lap. The Norma handles well and is predictable. I think we have a good shot at being towards the front in qualifying, and a shot at pole position. It’s realistic. There are a few things to work on the set-up but we’re in a good spot to go onwards to tomorrow.”
Davide Rigon (#11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3): “We used three sets of tyres today to focus on the car’s balance ahead of qualifying tomorrow. During tomorrow’s earlier Free Practice sessions, in the hotter temperatures, we’ll switch our focus to the race but we have a good base and will not change too much.
“There was a lot of traffic, so it was tough to put a clear lap together. But as a team we have a good feeling in the car. The race is long, and in more recent years the race has become tougher with faster cars and drivers.
“I think we will suffer a little in the hotter temperatures, the car tends to get more oversteer so that is why we used new tyres to always have the correct feeling. We’re happy now, but there’s still some work to do.”