Wet weather dampened the opening practice session for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at The Circuit of the Americas.
The conditions put several teams off, with several teams in both the LMP2 and LMGTE Am category choosing to keep their figurative powder and their physical car dry during the session. Only three LMP2 cars set lap times, and only the Pecom Racing team cycled all of their three drivers through, every member of the trio – Pierre Kaffer, Nicolas Minassian and Luis Perez–Companc – faster than the drivers in the pair of Lotus coupes that were their only class rivals to take to the track.
Nicki Thiim was fastest among the drivers that set laps in the Am branch of the GT grid, the Dane’s lap of 2:18.022 leading the class ahead of the sister Aston Martin Racing entry, which trailed by nearly 2.5 seconds at the end of the session.
The Imsa Performance Matmut team were third fastest in LMGTE Am, but the Porsche works team were fastest in LMGTE Pro by over a second even though every car in the class completed a competitive lap. Richard Lietz was fastest in the Porsche AG Team Manthey entry he shares with Richard Lietz. In the wake of Lietz’s 2:17.164 were the three AMR Vantages, headed by Fred Makowiecki and the #99.
Richie Stanaway put the #98 Vantage third fastest, two seconds off the class leader, with the #97 Aston and #91 within half a second of the Kiwi’s time. The two AF Corse Ferraris, however, struggled for pace, the best of them, the #71 thanks to Kamui Kobayashi – one of relatively few drivers in the WEC paddock to have raced at the Austin circuit previously – still five seconds slower than the pace setting Porsche.
Like Lietz Loic Duval went fastest on a late lap, the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans winner pushing Audi teammate Benoit Treluyer in the #1 car down to second place after the checkered flag had dropped to end the 90 minute session.
Duval’s 2:03.749 was seven tenths faster than Treluyer’s best time. Sebastien Buemi was the fastest man in the #8 Toyota 2.7 seconds slower than Duval with Rebellion Racing’s Lola-Toyota – unsurprisingly fourth fastest in class and overall a further 1.2 seconds away from the ultimate pace.