21/09/2012 Mercedes pair lay down a marker at Nürburgring

The GT3 European Championship drivers’ point leaders Dominik Baumann (AUT) and Maximilian Buhk (DEU) laid down a marker for what they hope will be a championship-crowning weekend by setting the fastest times in both Free Practice sessions at the final round in Nürburgring.

The Heico Gravity-Charouz pair set a best time overall of 1:56.498 to be over a second quicker than the rest of the field.

“We had a race in the German championship last week so we are quite comfortable with the base we worked from to get a good set-up for today,” Baumann said.

“We know the track very well and the Mercedes is suited to it with the downforce level we have.

“We had small problems with tyres – the team had three punctures and we need to look into it before Qualifying. We are faster than some of the GT1 guys so we are in the right direction.”

Buhk added: “It’s looking very good for the weekend and for the championship. We are quite optimistic for Qualifying and the Race tomorrow.”

The second fastest lap of the day was set by the Russian Bear Motorsport pair of Sergey Ryabov and Kiril Ladygin with 1:57.093. Third quickest was the second Heico Gravity Charouz Mercedes of Max Nilsson (SWE) and Mika Vahamaki (FIN) with a lap of 1:57.117.

Baumann and Buhk on 164 points, have a healthy lead over second-placed AF Corse Ferrari pair Michael Lyons (GBR) and Stefano Gai (ITA) on 128. The Ferrari pair were down in seventh overall after day one just one place behind the second AF Corse Ferrari of Giuseppe Ciro (ITA) and Gaetano Ardagna Perez (VEN).

AF Corse (295), the leaders of the teams’ standings, are in a straight fight with Heico Gravity-Charouz (286) for the teams’ title.

Tomorrow’s Qualifying starts at 09:55 with Race One at 14:05.