Free Practice ran for six hours last night, with teams getting a feel for the circuit both in daylight hours, and during the night. The requirements were for new drivers to run at least ten laps, and all drivers to complete three in the darkness.
I watched some of the live timing screens but couldn’t dedicate six hours to it (sadly). Instead, I’ve scoured the web for news regarding our hero, his team, and his rivals.
- Peugeot led the way with the fastest time after 15 minutes of practice – but boo, only because the Audis had not hit the track yet. Of course, as soon as McNish was out, he topped Peugeot’s initial times by about six seconds.
- It wasn’t a dry start to practice by any means, with changeable track conditions. Wurz was handling the weather the best of the Peugeots, in the #9. The two teams began to trade the top spot.
- Before half-distance, David Brabham in the #9 suffered a clutch blowout on track, and had to return to the pitlane. According to the team manager, this was just an installation issue and won’t happen again.
- After half-time Peugeot said they had completed all their programme for the day, clearly working on the long distance running, rather than going headlong for a laptime.
At the end of the session (pdf of final times here), Audi finished on top, the #9 was third, and Franck’s car was fifth. However, it’s worth pointing out that despite coming in behind four other cars, the #8 was the fastest car out on track, with a speed clocked at 301 km/h (pdf here). Let’s hope that speed translates into qualifying.
Photo: Eric Gilbert/Motorsport.com