Audi Sport Team WRT began its pursuit of a third TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa victory in the ideal manner by topping this morning's free practice.
Wrapped in a one-off 'art car' livery for the big event, the #32 Audi set a benchmark 2m19.037s on its first flying lap. Kelvin van der Linde was at the wheel, while crew-mates Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor also completed milage during the session.
The #22 GPX Racing Porsche driven by Matt Campbell was second-fastest (2m19.328s), 0.291s shy of the Audi. Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP ensured that three brands were represented among the overall top-three thanks to a 2m19.402s effort from Raffaele Marciello.
The #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche was fourth courtesy of Matteo Cairoli. Fifth spot went to the #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini, with Mirko Bortolotti among the handful of drivers to post his best time towards the end of the session.
The Silver Cup has attracted its biggest-ever grid this year, with 17 cars set to compete for class honours. The #7 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG was the best of them in free practice, with Marvin Dienst recording a 2m19.808s to claim sixth overall.
The #69 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG was the top Pro-Am runner. Fabian Schiller set the time, which was 0.827s from Van der Linde's benchmark and good enough to finish ninth overall. The best Am Cup entrant was the #23 Huber Motorsport Porsche driven by Nico Menzel, which finished P37.
All 58 cars logged laps during the session. The last to emerge was the #107 CMR Bentley, which ultimately finished 58th and last in free practice. There was a short full-course yellow period 20 minutes into proceedings and an even shorter yellow flag towards the end, but otherwise the session ran without problems. The full result can be viewed here.
There have been a handful of changes to the entry list for this year's race. James Calado and Lorenzo Bontempelli have been replaced in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari – a leading Pro-Am class contender – by John Wartique and Alessio Rovera. Pro squad HubAuto has added 2015 race winner Nick Catsburg to its #50 Mercedes-AMG in place of Yelmer Buurman. This will be the 10th consecutive participation for Catsburg, but the first in anything other than BMW machinery.
Cars will be back on-track at 15:45 for Pre-Qualifying, which will signal the start of free-to-view live streaming from Spa-Francorchamps. Tonight's Qualifying sessions (20:50) will also be live, followed by full coverage from Friday through to the final chequered flag on Sunday afternoon.