The championship leaders Maximilian Buhk (DEU) and Dominik Baumann (AUT) in the Heico Gravity-Charouz Mercedes SLS AMG topped both Free Practice sessions in the fourth round of the FIA GT3 European Championship at a sun-drenched Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.
The pair set a best overall time of 1:45.948 in favourable morning conditions around the 4.692km (2.915 mile) circuit. Their time put them seven tenths of a second clear of their pursuers in Free Practice One.
Their time of 1:46.190 also put them at the head of the field in the afternoon session.
Buhk was pleased with their day’s work. “This afternoon’s practice session was very good, we had good pace and we did what we set out to do,” he said. “We completed a programme which helps us plan for Qualifying and the Race.
“We were using some new tyres because of the heat of the track. We were following the pressures in the tyres also during the session and now we have a bit to do for the weekend.”
Air temperatures reached 26C while a strong late afternoon breeze swept the area adding an additional challenge on an uphill-downhill track which tests drivers to the full.
Second fastest overall was the Rhino’s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini No.11 of Hari Proczyk (AUT) and David Mengesdorf (DEU). The Austrian posted a time of 1:46.405 just as the flag fell on the second session.
Proczyk admitted that a set-up change had helped them to achieve their goal of being near the head of the timesheets.
He said: “The session was very difficult for us because we changed dampers right at the beginning and we were running more than two seconds too slow, so near the end we decided to change again and I pushed for a good lap time and it came.
“For Qualifying and Race we’re hoping we can do more or less the same performance. Now we’re looking into the tyre set-up. “I used the tyres 200% in the session but we’re still not sure about the set-up.
“We’re not absolutely sure whether the set-up is correct for Qualifying and the Race. We hope we have it right.”
Third was the second Heico Gravity-Charouz Mercedes of Finland’s Mika Vahamaki and Sweden’s Max Nilsson with a best time for the day of 1:46.529.
Giuseppe Ciro (ITA) and Gaetano Ardagna Perez (VEN), second in the championship standings in the AFCorse Ferrari 458 Italia No.50 were inside the top six in both sessions andended with a 1:47.165.
Their AF Corse stablemates Michael Lyons (GBR) and Stefano Gai (ITA), third in the drivers’ standings posted a 1:47.556.
The Portuguese pair of Ni Amorim and Cesar Campanico, put home advantage to good use to claim sixth fastest overall (1:46.716) in the No.14 Team Novadriver Audi R8 LMS.
Russia’s Natalia Freidina and Albert von Thurn und Taxis in the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini produced a best time of 1:47.311 to be ninth quickest overall.
The Qualifying session starts tomorrow at 10:50 local time with Race One timed for 16:45.