The opening Free Practice session for the FIA GT Nations Cup has been completed at Bahrain International Circuit, and it is Team Argentina currently holding the early bragging rights.
The South American squad made a relatively low key start to proceedings – patiently watching other teams setting times in the early moments – but drivers Ezequiel Perez Companc and Jose Manuel Balbiani were soon on-track in their stealth-like Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
Such is the competitiveness of the 18-car line-up for this inaugural event that the Argentinians pipped the Team France Mercedes-AMG GT3 by just 0.078s and a trio of European giants followed on the timesheets.
Team Italy, Team Belgium and Team UK occupied third, fourth and fifth positions in the order, whilst the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Turkey – piloted by Ayhancan Guven and Salih Yoluc – was sixth.
Team PR China and Team Malaysia ensured Asia were well represented in seventh and eighth respectively, whilst the Scandinavian squads from Denmark and Sweden completed the top ten positions.
More than 350 laps were completed across the field with Team Australia’s Porsche circling the 5.41km circuit 29 times – the most of any car so far.
There was drama for some European teams – most notably Team Russia and Team Germany – whose cars only arrived midway through the 80-minute session, following shipping delays overnight. Both of the Rinaldi Racing-run Ferraris will hopefully join the action from FP2 this afternoon.
The session was largely incident free until Team Belarus endured an off in the latter stages. The outfit’s Ferrari seemed to sustain some damage in the accident at Turn 7, but repairs should be completed in time for the final practice session.
The FIA GT Nations Cup will be back on-track at 13:45 (local time – CET +2) before the Qualifying sessions and the opening Qualifying Race, which will take place under floodlights this evening. You can see the latest timetable here and watch all of the action LIVE from qualifying onwards via www.fiagtnationscup.com.