Audi topped the opening free practice in Budapest, home of the fourth and penultimate round in this year’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s Dries Vanthoor lapped around the Hungarian Grand Prix venue on a 1:44.086 flyer aboard the #5 R8 LMS he shares with Marcel Fässler.
It was actually an Audi 1-2 in FP1 at the Hungaroring, with the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entry from team-mates Enzo Ide and Christopher Mies slotting in into second and a mere 0.011s adrift.
The #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart was another 0.035s behind, while current Sprint Cup runners-up Will Stevens and Markus Winkelhock ended up fourth quickest in the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT charger.
Pro-Am points leader Alexander Mattschull and Daniel Keilwitz impressed in the #333 Rinaldi Racing-run Ferrari 488 GT3, as the duo logged the fifth quickest time in the first practice. Right behind them was the fastest Silver Cup entrant in the #42 Strakka Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3 driven by Lewis Williamson and Martin Kodric.
Blancpain GT Sports Club ace Stephen Earle and David Perel, who claimed the all-Am class victory 12 months ago in Budapest, rounded up the order aboard the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, the only Am Cup-entered machine this weekend.
As the 80-minute session got under way at the tight and twisty 4.381km F1 track, the Blancpain GT Series riders and runners were greeted by blue skies and warm temperatures. With the first 40 minutes of running earmarked for Bronze and Silver racers only, Vanthoor already led the standings at the halfway mark.
The Pro drivers then joined the fray, which led to several improvements but the table-topping mark remained untroubled until the end of the session, though the top five cars are only covered by 0.090s. The top 17 cars, all the way to the #7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 (Steven Kane/Vincent Abril), are within one second.Budapest’s second Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup free practice gets under way at 14:15, local time. Make sure to follow the live timing and updates available on our official website and social media channels, as teams and drivers fine tune their final preparations ahead of Saturday morning’s all-important qualifying session.