The FIA World Endurance Championship made its debut in a new country (Portugal) and a new venue, as the Algarve International Circuit, close to Portimao welcomed the 32-car entry with baking temperatures and a stiff breeze.
The weekend started proceedings with a 90-minute Free Practice session around the 2.49-mile circuit in temperatures in the upper 80-degrees F. The session was eventually topped, in the closing minutes, not by one of the four-car Hypercar entry, but by a late effort from local hero and reigning FIA Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa, in the No. 38 Jota ORECA 07 LMP2 car. His 1m33.752s was 0.029s quicker than the Alpine A480-Gibson that edged out the No. 8 and No. 7 Toyotas in the Hypercar category, +0.019 and +0.026 back respectively.
Just over a second off the top spot was the fourth Hypercar, the No. 709 Glickenhaus 007 Hypercar, taking part in its first competitive WEC session. The new car posted a 1m34.789s, just a second off the session-topping time, in the hands of ex-Ganassi Ford and Corvette Racing factory driver Richard Westbrook.
GTE Pro saw a Porsche one-two in the four car class, the No. 92 911 RSR-19 of Kevin Estre posting a 1m40.227s, a tenth up on the sister No. 91 car in the hands of Gimmi Bruni, with the Ferrari pair around half a second further back.
The session saw a slow zone after an hour for a car stranded at Turn 8 and a full-course yellow for around five minutes close to the checkered flag for the recovery of the No. 54 GTE Am AF Corse Ferrari, stopped on course.
Porsche factory driver Matt Campbell topped GTE Am in the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche — a 1m41.202s two tenths up on Andrea Piccini in the No. 60 Iron Lynx Ferrari with Matteo Cairoli (No. 56 Project 1 Porsche) and Augusto Farfus (No. 98 Aston Martin), under a tenth back.
UP NEXT: Track action continues tomorrow with two more Free Practice sessions before a quick fire qualifying session and then the 8 Hours of Portimao on Sunday.