The two 60-minute sessions on day one of the 3 Hours of Imola weekend saw plenty of track action.
The day started wet but ended under sunny skies above the 4.9km Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, with the fastest times being set in the afternoon Free Practice session.
Free Practice 1
2012 ELMS Champions Thiriet by TDS Racing were fastest during the opening session of the 3 Hours of Imola weekend in Italy with Mathias Beche setting a 1m42.026 lap at the end of the 60-minute Free Practice session.
The Oreca-Nissan of Beche and Pierre Thiriet was 0.9 seconds quicker than the second placed car, the Silverstone race winning nr38 Jota Sport Zytek-Nissan of Oliver Turvey and Simon Dolan and the nr18 Murphy Prototypes Oreca Nissan of Brendon Hartley and Mark Patterson.
The opening Free Practice session of the weekend started on a wet track but a dry line soon appeared. However there was an interruption when the nr30 HVM Status GP Lola Judd spun off at T5 and had to be recovered to a safe place bringing out the red flag so the marshals could work in safety.
The fastest LMPC competitor was the nr47 Team Endurance Challenge FLM Oreca 09 of Alex Loan and Matthieu Lecuyer in 10th place overall with a time of 1m52.243.
The GT categories was an all Ferrari affair with the nr66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia of Andrea Bertolini and Joel Camathias leading the LMGTE class with a time of 1m48.583 and finishing the 60-minute session in 8th overall.
The fastest GTC competitor was the nr69 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Fabio Babini, Viktor Shaitar and Kirill Ladygin in 15th overall in a time of 1m53.079.
Free Practice 2
The opening day of the 3 Hours of Imola weekend ended under sunny skies with the nr36 Signatech Alpine finish with the fastest lap of the day around the 4.9km Imola circuit.
Nelson Panciatici posted a 1m36.214 time, 0.6 seconds quicker than the nearest rival, the nr18 Murphy Prototypes Oreca-Nissan of Brendon Hartley and Mark Patterson.
Panciatici’s lap was over three seconds faster than the best LMP2 time set during the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) 6 hour race held in July 2011.
The 60-minute free practice session was red flagged eight minutes before the end when the nr3 Grieves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan spun at Turn 12, damaging the kerbing on the inside of the corner. With debris needing to be cleared from the track the session was not restarted.
The fastest LMPC car was the nr49 Team Endurance Challenge FLM Oreca of Paul Loup Chatin and Gary Hirsch and finishing the day in 8th overall and ahead of two LMP2 competitors.
After a dominant display by Ferrari this morning, the afternoon session saw Ferrari and the other famous Italian manufacturer, Lamborghini to come to the fore on home territory.
In the LMGTE it was the nr52 RAM Racing Ferrari 458 Italia which finished the day with the best time of 1m43.541 in 13th overall and the nr60 KOX Racing Lamborghini Gallardo of Peter Kox and Nico Pronk heading the GTC time sheet in 17th overall with a best time of 1m44.446.
Qualifying for the 3 Hours of Imola will take place at 10:00 tomorrow morning with the LMGTE and GTC cars taking to the track first for a 20 minute session followed by the LMP2 and LMPC cars. The 3 Hours of Imola will get underway at 16:00 tomorrow afternoon.
European Le Mans Series