Title contender Simon Gachet paced the opening practice session for this weekend's deciding Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe contest at the Hungaroring.
Gachet and teammate Christopher Haase (#25 Sainteloc Racing Audi) enter the final round of the sprint-format championship 27 points shy of the leading crew, meaning they will require race wins in Hungary if they are to capture the title.
The French driver made the perfect start to that effort by leading FP1. Gachet was at the top of the times at the end of the session's opening 40 minutes, which were reserved for silver and bronze-graded drivers. The French ace posted a lap of 1m43.563s to narrowly edge out Felipe Fraga (#90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG) and Jim Pla (#87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG).
The full field were able to participate in the second 40 minutes, but there was no change at the top of the times with Gachet's benchmark proving to be unbeatable. The same would prove to be true for Fraga and Pla's efforts as well.
Another title contender was fourth, with Mirko Bortolotti (#63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini) proving to be the biggest mover during the second half of the session. Among the other potential champions, the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG was 15th and the points-leading #563 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini only 23rd.
AKKA ASP ace Fraga was the quickest Silver Cup runner, while teammate Pla led the Pro-Am contingent. The sole Am Cup entry was 28th quickest, though the #444 HB Racing Ferrari was competitive with the other bronze-graded runners.
A second free practice session will get underway this afternoon at 15.30. Qualifying (10.30) and the opening race (15.10) will take place on Saturday, followed by the season-closing race at 13.45 on Sunday. From qualifying onwards, all of the action will be streamed live on the Blancpain GT Series website and across its social media channels.
> FP1 Results