Jean-Karl Vernay opened hostilities at Monza, posting the fastest lap in the first Free Practice; he beat Maxime Potty, Fabrizio Giovanardi and Mikel Azcona.
Vernay was the first driver to complete a lap under the 2-minute mark, clocking a 1:59.999 in his Audi RS3 LMS at the very beginning of the session. Soon, Azcona demoted him to second, improving the provisional fastest lap to 1:59.845. Vernay responded with a 1:58.932, but this was disallowed for a track limit infringement.
Azcona and his Cupra improved further to 1:59.782 and then Giovanardi entered in the frame, jumping on top with a lap of 1:59.519 at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Vernay and Azcona got closer to the Italian, as they both improved to 1:59.659 and 1:59.662 respectively that placed the Frenchman second and the Spaniard third.
Eight minutes before the end of the session, Vernay clocked a second lap under 1:59 – and this time valid one – 1:58.783 that placed him on top of the timesheet for good.
In the final moments, Potty’s Volkswagen Golf GTI moved up to second with a lap of 1:59.321 and Azcona improved once again to 1:59.591 to be fourth behind Giovanardi.
TCR Italy current points leader Salvatore Tavano timed the fifth fastest lap (2:00.085) and was followed by Dušan Borković (2:00132), Dániel Nagy (2:00.178), Oliver Taylor (2:00.238), Stian Paulsen (2:00.403) and Danny Kroes (2:00.555).
There were four newcomers in the top-11: Giovanardi, Tavano, Taylor and Cosimo Barberini, 11th in the Subaru WRX STI who had the front right window shattered by a stone; his best lap was 2:00.562.
Josh Files could not post a valid time due to an engine sensor issue, while Peter Terting pitted to change a broken wheel hub.
The second free practice session is scheduled at 16:40.