The hills surrounding the Autodromo Algarve, just north west of Portamio on the Portuguese coast, reverberated to the sound of thunder overnight, which was replaced this morning by the sound of 23 GT1 cars on track for the weekends first free-practice session. The stunning facility, 2.9 mile, 18 turn, undulating track, was officially classed as wet for the days first run.
The championship, the FIA's newest World Championship, has been a revelation to watch this season, with every single race throwing up close racing and brilliant overtaking - everything that top flight motorsport should be. Out of the six marquee manufacturers competing, Aston Martin, Corvette, Ford, Lamborghini, Maserati and Nissan, all have won at least one race, either a qualifying race or championship race, which makes up the series configuration.
Quickest overall in Free Practice was Bas Leinders in the Ford GT of Marc VDS Racing, with the Vitafone Maserati in second place.
Peter Dumbreck in the Nissan GT-R was third quickest with partner Michael Krum. Fifth quickest was Aston Martin driver Darren Turner, who won the last round at the Nurburgring with partner Tomas Enge. “It's ok the track was getting better and better every lap, there's a good dry line out there now," said Enge. "Surprisingly as we are running with 40k ballast, the performance and balance of the car doesn't feel too bad. I don't want to get too excited but we are looking okay at the moment. I've raced here a few times and done quite a bit of testing and I really like it. It's challenging with a few slow corners and a few high speed corners and the fact that it has so much elevation change is really nice. For a new circuit it's probably the best one out there at the moment.”
The FIA GT1 World Championship will be streamed live, here on www.independent.co.uk on Saturday with qualifying live at 11.15am and the qualifying race live at 4.45pm. The Championship race will be live on Sunday at 3.30pm. Commentary comes from David Croft and John Watson. Go to independent.co.uk/gt1 for coverage, or simply click here.