Audi, Extreme Speed Motorsports and Aston Martin led their respective classes in the opening practice session.
With cloudy skies above the Circuit of the Americas and a hot and humid 32 degrees centigrade air temperature, the 29 cars taking part in the first non-European race of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship took to the track.
Audi leads the way
At the end of the 90-minute session, the No. 2 Audi R18 of 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer were the quickest with a 1m 51.136 ... 0.187s faster than their teammates in the No. 1 R18. The fastest lap is 3.6 seconds slower than last year’s pole time of 1m47.520 but there are still two more practice sessions before qualifying tomorrow.
Porsche ahead of Toyota
The No. 20 Porsche 919 of Timo Bernard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley set the third fastest time of 1m51.919, ahead of the two Toyotas. The championship leading Toyota pulled off the track towards the end of the session, with Anthony Davidson parking the car out of the way on the pit exit.
The No. 12 Rebellion R-One was the quickest LMP1-L competitor, two seconds faster than the sister No. 13 car. The brand new Lotus CLM P1/01 – AER got its first competitive run of the 2014 season, finishing up with a 2m01942 lap, 4.3 seconds behind the No. 12 Rebellion.
ESM on top in LMP2
The No. 30 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX 03B – Honda of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Ed Brown set the pace in LMP2 on home soil with a 1m58.111 lap, 1.1 seconds ahead of the brand new G-Drive Racing Ligier of Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal.
The second free practice session will get underway at 19:30 (local) and take place under the lights at the Circuit of the Americas. Session Ends with Audi 1-2.
Aston Martin goes fastest among GTE-Pro and GTE-Am cars
Aston Martin Racing shone brightly in the 90-minute session, with Darren Turner in the LMGTE Pro No. 97 Vantage V8 putting in a last minute lap of 2:06.399 to top the time sheets in the two GTE categories. Setting the time just before the chequered flag fell and temperatures dropped (with a sprinkling of rain), he displaced his Aston Martin Racing LMGTE Am team mates from the No. 95 entry. New Zealander Richie Stanaway set the best lap of 2:06.427 to head the class and start the weekend off well for the British marque.
AF Corse’s No.51 Ferrari 458 Italia was 0.5s behind the class leader in LMGTE Pro with Corvette Racing’s Team America making a solid start to its first FIA WEC round outside the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Also impressing was the US-entered No.90 8Star Motorsport F458 in LMGTE Am, with American Jeff Segal among the driver line up.
A second 90-minute free practice session will take place between 7:30 pm (CT), going into the night, in order for the teams and drivers to prepare fully for Saturday’s race.