Ayhancan Guven produced a sparkling lap for Team Turkey in the final FIA GT Nations Cup Free Practice session in Bahrain, as the Mercedes-AMG outfit topped the timesheets.
The 2:01.565s lap time – which came with 30 minutes of the 80 minute session remaining – was more than eight tenths quicker than any other car had produced up until that point.
Team Denmark hauled its Ferrari closer to the ultimate pace in the latter stages – with Nicklas Nielsen and Johnny Laursen carrying out the driving duties for the Scandinavian squad – but they eventually fell short by 0.263s.
Team Turkey had spent much of the early running practicing pitstops and driver changes, which will be a feature during the three scheduled races over the next two days, but there was little doubting Guven’s pace when he finally got in the groove.
“The car is really consistent and we were able to show a good pace,” said Guven. “It is all about the final tomorrow though so this is just preparation, which is why the pitstop practice was also important.
“Changing drivers is quite a new experience for me so we will keep working on that in the two Qualification Races and hopefully get everything right in the final.”
Team France was third, following on from second position in the opening practice session, suggesting they too could be well placed to challenge during qualifying later this afternoon.
Huge plaudits must go to Team Mexico, whose car only arrived in the early hours of this morning, and the squad even recovered from an early spin in FP2 before setting the fourth quickest time of the session.
Team Belgium, Team Sweden and Team Italy were fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, whilst the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 of Team Hong Kong found form late on to claim eighth.
Team Argentina, who had set the benchmark during the opening practice session, had to settle for ninth on this occasion with Team Malaysia rounding out the top ten.
All 18 cars made it on to the track with Team Belarus the last to join the fray in the final 15 minutes, following repairs to its Ferrari after an accident this morning.
Qualifying will be split into two sessions later this afternoon with Bronze drivers completing the first segment and each Silver level racer getting the honours in the final 20 minutes.
Q1 will set the grid for the first Qualification Race later this evening whilst Q2 will do the same for tomorrow’s final Qualification Race. The combined results of both races will then set the grid for the FIA GT Nations Cup final, which will be played out under the floodlights on Saturday evening.
LIVE streaming of the event is now available here throughout the remainder of Friday and Saturday, with Qualifying due to get underway at 16:05 later today (local time – GMT +3).