Cool Racing’s #37 ORECA 07 Gibson set the pace in the first practice session of the 4 Hours of Portimao weekend after a 1:32.105 from Nicolas Lapierre.
The Frenchman’s time was just over a tenth faster than Filipe Albuquerque, who along with Phil Hanson is looking to make it two wins in two races to finish the season in the #22 United Autosports ORECA.
Third in the standings was the Carlin Dallara P217, an encouraging start to the weekend for the British team which is racing a brand new (Asian Le Mans-bound) chassis here in Portugal. Ben Barnicoat went quickest of the three British drivers in the car, with a 1:32.905.
Of the three title contenders, GRAFF’s ORECA was the fastest, managing a time to go sixth overall. The G-Drive Racing Aurus, which leads the standings ended up 13th and the IDEC Sport OERCA finished the running 15th.
In LMP3, it was Ultimate’s Norma that led the way, Matthieu Lahaye setting a 1:40.101 benchmark time. Lucas Legeret in the #19 M Racing Norma came close to finishing on top though, with a lap just 0.037 off Lahaye’s best.
Third overall was Mikkel Jensen and the Eurointernational crew which is currently tied for the LMP3 points lead with the #13 Inter Europol Ligier, which was three tenths adrift in the classification.
GTE was topped by the #60 Kessel Racing Ferrari, after Andrea Piccini’s 1L42.677. The #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche ended up second, Matteo Cairoli coming within two tenths, ahead of the #83 Kessel Ferrari which completed the top three thanks to a 1:42.940 by Rahel Frey.
The session was a clean one, with just one Full-Course Yellow period for the #15 RLR Msport Ligier which ended up stranded in the gravel.
The second Free Practice session will take place tomorrow morning at 11h35.