After dominating both Friday practice sessions, Raffaele Marciello and RAM Racing continued their march to the top of the times by leading the GT3 command in opening practice at the Autodromo do Algarve.
Seb Hopkins also shone in the GT4 session, with his best lead for R Racing’s Aston Martin.
After signing onto the circuit on Friday, Marciello wasted no time laying out a cue for the rest to chase. He took the wheel of the #15 Mercedes-AMG for the start and quickly usurped the best of Marvin Kirchhöfer in the McLaren Garage 59 before improving on what would become the best effort of the session on his third lap. From there, the Swiss ace passed the baton to John Ferguson to rack up the laps.
Sandy Mitchell came closest to Marciello’s time, but his Barwell Lamborghini and Shaun Balfe’s were second, nearly 0.3 seconds behind. Darren Leung and Dan Harper were third fastest in the Century BMW M4 GT3, with Ian Loggie and Phil Keen (for Jules Gounon this weekend) fourth for 2 Seas Motorsport.
Mark Sansom and Will Tregurtha finished fifth in the second Barwell Huracan, with Kirchhöfer and new teammate Miguel Ramos completing the top six in Garage 59’s McLaren.
GT4 was also a slow burner, with many teams playing on the track and the slightly cooler Saturday morning track conditions. But R Racing picked up where it left off on Friday by overtaking the order after a fine effort from Hopkins.
Josh Rowledge led the way early in the DTO McLaren Artura which he shares with Aston Millar, but then Hopkins put the Aston in front before he and teammate Josh Miller pulled over to let the others chase them.
DTO would probably have been a late challenger, but the car lost the second half of the session after coming to a stop on track and causing the only stoppage of the session. Regardless, Millar and Rowledge were second fastest at around 0.6 seconds.
Mike Simpson helped the Toro Verde Ginetta he shares with James Townsend into third place, with Dan Vaughan and Zac Meakin fourth in the new joint effort from Team Parker Racing and Elite Motorsport, which includes the team switching from their usual Porsche to a yellow McLaren for this event.
Runaway Championship leaders Charles Clark and Jack Brown finished fifth in their Optimum Motorsport Artura, while Pro-Am Championship leaders Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato rounded out the top six in the #22 Century Motorsport BMW M4.
The second practice starts at 11:50 a.m.