Craig Dolby (Tottenham Hotspur) topped the time sheets as Superleague Formula held its first practice session at the Beijing International street circuit on Friday afternoon.
The British driver set a best time of 1m08.341sec around the 2.733km track, set in the 2008 Olympic Games Rowing and Canoeing venue, to edge out Frederic Vervisch of Liverpool. Less than a second covered the top 10 drivers.
Behind the top two, Frenchman Franck Perera was third quickest for Bordeaux, while his countryman Julien Jousse (AS Roma) took fourth ahead of Corinthians driver Robert Doornbos.
Of the other usual frontrunners, Yelmer Buurman (AC Milan) did more laps than anyone else on his way to fifth, the flu-ridden Ben Hanley (Olympiacos) was sixth and Max Wissel (FC Basel) 10th, albeit only 0.868sec adrift of Dolby's best. Points leader Davide Rigon only managed 13 laps and was some 2.232sec off the pace in 14th.
The session saw one red flag, as Team China's Ma Qing Hua stopped at the 90-degree Turn 11 right-hander, but otherwise ran trouble-free as the drivers learned the new circuit for the first time.
Three cars did not manage any track time in the opening session. John Martin (Beijing Guoan) suffered a fuel pressure issue on his out-lap, while the Atech-Reid team opted not to run the Olympique Lyonnais car of Tristan Gommendy. Alvaro Parente (FC Porto) missed the session as he only arrived in China a couple of hours prior to the start.