The 1m45.707 lap was set by Andre Lotterer early on in the session, which was 1.3seconds than the quickest time set in qualifying at last year’s event.
The no8 Audi of Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval was second fastest, with di Grassi setting a 1m46.352 lap, 0.645s behind their teammates and 0.167s ahead of the championship leading no17 Porsche 919 hybrid of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.
The no18 Porsche was 4th quickest, followed by the two Toyotas, with the no2 TS040 just ahead of the no1 car.
The no13 Rebellion Racing R-One was the quickest of the privateers, with Dominik Kraihamer setting a 1m52.373, 0.1s ahead of the no4 Bykolles CLM-AER.
KCMG Quickest at Home
In LMP2 the no47 KCMG Oreca 05 was the fastest in the class, the Hong Kong based team throwing down the gauntlet to their rivals G-Drive Racing in the first session of their home event. Richard Bradley set a 1m55.069 lap in the Nissan powered ORECA, just 0.077s ahead of the championship leading no26 G-Drive Racing Ligier and 0.256s ahead of the no36 Signatech Alpine, which was 3rd quickest in the 90-minute session.
Porsche take 1-2 in LMGTE Pro
The protagonists in the LMGTE classes renewed battle at Shanghai International Circuit this morning with a typically close and intriguing session.
The Porsche versus Ferrari title battle is set to rage on in China and the first Free Practice exchanges pointed towards an initial advantage for the German manufacturer as they ended the 90-minute session 1-2.
Patrick Pilet driving the No.92 Porsche Team Manthey entry claimed the bets time with a 2m04.785s lap around the 5.451 kilometre circuit. The Frenchman set the time early in the session and was never headed. Richard Lietz came close to Pilet’s best but his best was 0.7s shy of the sister Porsche 911 RSR which has proved to be the benchmark ever since the 6 Hours of Nurburgring.
The No.99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 placed third with Richie Stanaway setting the most rapid time. The Kiwi, who will sample LMP1 machinery for the first time next month in Bahrain, stopped the clocks at 2m05.506s.
Reigning champions AF Corse placed fourth and sixth in class with the #71 Ferrari 458 Italia and the #51 respectively. The Italian team ran through a pre-set programme as they aim to continue the momentum of finishing 1-3 at Fuji last time out.
Larbre continue good form in LMGTE Am
In LMGTE Am, the Larbre Chevrolet Corvette C7 was at the top of the timing screens leading category point’s leaders SMP Racing.
Paolo Ruberti ensured that the French run American LMGTE car spent most of the session at the head of the seven car class after he peaked on a 2m06.039s. The Corvette is building good momentum in the class after taking an initial pole position at Fuji earlier this month. However, this was taken away from the team after failing post-qualifying technical checks.
The SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia, in the hands of Andrea Bertolini, was just 0.034s behind, while incredibly in third place was the No.98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 which was just a further 0.002s behind with Pedro Lamy setting the time. Even by LMGTE Am standards the margins look to be thrillingly tight.
The second Free Practice session will take place at 15:30 (local) this afternoon.