GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS returned to on-track action this morning at Imola, with official testing kicking off the 2020 season.
The 90-minute session featured 45 of the 46 cars that will tackle this weekend's three-hour race. It gave competitors a chance to acquaint themselves with what is a new venue for the series, which kicks off its 10th season of competition at the Italian track.
There was a familiar name at the top of the timesheets as the #31 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT car led the way. Audi newcomer Mirko Bortolotti began his association with the German brand in perfect fashion, posting a 1m41.723s.
The sister #32 machine was second-fastest with Chris Mies at the wheel, giving WRT the perfect start as it seeks to return to title-winning ways. Patrick Pilet registered the third-best time in his GPX Porsche, while reigning champions Orange1 FFF Racing were fourth thanks to Dennis Lind in the #63 Lamborghini.
The #15 Tech 1 Racing Lexus led the Silver Cup runners, with Aurelien Panis registering the 10th best time overall, just under a second shy of Bortolotti. The top Pro-Am runner was the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, driven by Jim Pla.
The session was halted by a handful of red flags. This included a problem for the #52 AF Corse Ferrari, which suffered a fire that is believed to have been caused by an oil leak. Heavy rain hit the circuit during the final minutes, halting running, though dry conditions are expected for the weekend. A second 90-minutes test session will take place at 14.50 CET, followed by the Bronze Test at 17.40.
From Saturday, all sessions will be streamed live. Coverage begins with free practice at 09.00 CST, followed later in the day by pre-qualifying (13.10) and qualifying (17.30). The main event gets underway at 13.30 on Sunday afternoon. Fans can follow the action on a variety of platforms, including the GT World Challenge Europe website and Facebook page and the GT World YouTube channel.