Over 40 international race drivers from 10 countries are gathered here in the foothills of the Portuguese Algarve for the first-ever 'MaxiEndurance 32 Hour' race in a strong mix of GT, prototype and touring cars - looking to set new race endurance World Records in up to 5 categories.
The world-class Autodromo, scene of World and European Championship events and Formula One testing, has welcomed teams for this weekend's brand new event from 5 countries, with drivers ranging from 16 to 70 years of age, experienced at every major international enduro - from Le Mans to Daytona to Sebring, Dubai, Bathurst and many more.
Daylight qualifying this afternoon saw ex-GP2 star Javi Villa (Esp) in the Avelon Formula / Team Icer Brakes Wolf GB08 CN chassis set provisional pole with a blistering 1'46.618" best lap. As the teams began to rotate each of their drivers (4 - 6 per car) through the requisite night qualifying laps, it became clear that efforts are focused on race set-up and safely getting each driver accustomed to the challenging circuit.
Although many of the teams and drivers are highly experienced in 12 and 24 hour races, approaches to the 'unknown territory' brought on by 8 additional hours will vary - but the challenge is clear and on the mind of every crew on the pit lane.
Great Britain's Intersport Racing boss (and driver) Kevin Clarke commented:
"Daylight practice went well - our goal has been to get all 5 drivers qualified. Our plan for a strong result this weekend is pretty simple: to run to our own pace - and to finish".
Villa and the lightweight Wolf were alone in the sub-1'50" club, but compatriot Jose Manuel de los
Milagros was an excellent second at 1'50.599" in the Antonio Castro entered 997 Cup-spec Porsche 911. Night qualifying wrapped up at 9 pm with no changes to the afternoon order.
The rolling start will be at 9 o'clock on Saturday morning, with Sunday afternoon's chequered flag at 5 p.m.