Ram Racing led the way in the opening session ahead of this year's Total 24 Hours of Spa, with the British effort's #74 Mercedes-AMG securing top spot in the annual Bronze Test.
This represents the second time in a row that the Ram squad has topped the three-hour session, which is open to all bronze-graded competitors and any silver drivers who have not previously contested the Belgian endurance classic.
A total of 28 cars took to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit under clear blue skies and in high temperatures, making the most of the additional track time on offer. Darren Burke put the #74 machine on top early and remained there for much of the first hour. The #33 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari then spent a considerable portion of the session in P1, before a busy final 20 minutes saw Louis Machiels (#52 AF Corse Ferrari) set a new benchmark of 2m22.460s.
This looked set to remain unbeaten, only for Burke to strike back with a 2m22.411s – putting the British driver a mere 0.049s clear at the top of the order. It was enough, however, to ensure another Bronze Test ended with Ram Racing at the front.
The session ran largely without interruption, save for a red flag period around the two-hour mark when the #43 Mercedes-AMG made contact with the barriers at Raidillon. Repairs were required at the crash scene, though ultimately the green flag flew soon afterwards.
Attention will now shift away from the circuit, with Wednesday reserved for activities in Spa town centre. The day will be highlighted by the annual parade, full-field autograph session and drivers’ briefing.
The next track action will take place on Thursday, when the cars return to circuit in spectacular style. Free practice, pre-qualifying, qualifying and night practice are all set to take place over the course of the day, with all sessions from pre-qualifying onwards available to watch live on the Total 24 Hours of Spa website.