The cool temperatures (11°C air and 15°C on the ground) and high humidity did not upset the competitors during the first free practice session which took place without major incident, as the drivers made their first laps of the week on this very demanding circuit.
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro diesel hybrid, which made its first official appearance this morning made an instant impression on the track with the fastest time achieved by the winning crew of the Le Mans 24 Hours 2011 in car #1. With a lap of 2’04” 434, Benoit Treluyer certainly did not beat the track record, but showed that the hybrid car already has a remarkable turn of speed. The second Audi hybrid fell between the two conventionally powered Audi R18 Ultra, the new version of the R18 prototype for 2012. The two new Lola-Toyotas of Rebellion Racing and the Dome of Pescarolo Team also had a sucessful track debut.
The Ferrari #51 of AF Corse set the fastest time in LMGTE Pro with a lap in 2’20”915, in the expert hands of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella. However, Porsche and Aston Martin were not far adrift; Marc Lieb for Felbermayr-Proton and Adrian Fernandez for Aston Martin Racing finishing only a few tenths behind.
In LMGTE Am, however, Porsche took control with a time of 2’23”135 set by Paolo Ruberti and the Felbermayr-Proton team (who are also entered in LMGTE Pro), followed by Nicolas Armindo and IMSA performance Matmut. A Ferrari, the 458 Italia #81 of AF Corse, completes the top three.
The competitors will be on track again at 16.25 for the second practice session of 90 minutes.