The inaugural FIA Motorsport Games are officially underway after the opening GT Cup free practice kicked off proceedings at Vallelunga this morning. Team France led the way at the end of the 80-minute outing, with Jim Pla on top in the Mercedes-AMG he shares with Jean-Luc Beaubelique.
Track conditions were tricky during the early stages, with overnight rain ensuring that the session was declared wet when it began at 10.00. Pla led almost immediately, but as the surface dried the names at the top of the timing screens changed rapidly.
As such there were spells at the front for Team UK, Team Belgium, Team Russia and Team Japan among others as drivers got their bearings at the 4km Vallelunga venue. Slick tyres were fitted around the halfway mark, further shuffling the order.
But as the clock ticked down Pla returned to the top, posting a 1m32.693s lap to establish an unbeatable benchmark. He ended the session two tenths faster than Patric Niederhauser in the Team Switzerland Lamborghini, with Alfred Renauer third in his Team Germany Porsche.
The session was stopped briefly during the early stages when Team Malaysia's Porsche came to a halt at pit entry, but green flag running prevailed thereafter. 21 of the 22 teams set a time, with Portugal's Audi the only machine not to do so.
The GT Cup will be back on-track for its second free practice session at 13.05 this afternoon. All six FIA Motorsport Games disciplines are in action today, with practice runs for the Touring Car, Formula 4, Drifting, Karting Slalom and Digital competitors. Qualifying and race action will follow during the weekend, with the GT Cup providing the closing contest on Sunday afternoon.
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