Team WRT kicked off its Sprint Cup defence in ideal fashion, with Dries Vanthoor putting the #32 Audi on top in free practice at Magny-Cours.
The Belgian ace and teammate Charles Weerts have returned in search of back-to-back titles and both showed impressive speed during the 80-minute session. A flurry of quick times during the final 15 minutes saw a number of different names occupy top spot, hinting at a highly competitive weekend ahead.
Ultimately it was Vanthoor who emerged fastest with a 1m35.849s. He edged out a pair of AKKA ASP drivers at the top to finish 0.132s clear of his nearest rival.
Raffaele Marciello was second in the #88 Mercedes-AMG, followed by teammate Jules Gounon in the sister #89 car. The French squad also topped the Silver Cup order as class standout Jim Pla went sixth overall in the #87 Mercedes-AMG.
AF Corse led the Pro-Am runners, with Ferrari stalwart Andrea Bertolini putting the #52 car he shares with Louis Machiels 10th overall. All 27 cars entered in this weekend's event logged laps during the opening session. Click here to view full results.
Free practice was punctuated by a trio of red flags, though all three resulted in only brief stoppages. The #114 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini was the first to find itself in the gravel, followed by the #33 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari and finally the #66 Attempto Racing Audi.
Cars will be back on-track tonight at 21:50 CEST for an 80-minute pre-qualifying session. Live coverage begins on Saturday with qualifying 1 (17:05) and race 1 (22:25), while Sunday's schedule consists of the second qualifying (10:00) and race (14:40).