IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams had to deal with changeable conditions Friday afternoon during the first practice session at Road America. The session started off in full wet conditions, but times dropped by more than 20 seconds.
In the closing minutes, Visit Florida Racing’s Marc Goossens turned in a lap of 119.977 seconds (121.463 mph) that was ultimately good enough for fastest overall. Goossens’ lap was the only lap of the session under two minutes, an excellent debut for the team’s new Ligier JS P217-Gibson (Note: The team’s Riley is pictured above).
Goossens’ lap was nine-tenths of a second faster than Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi. PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Olivier Pla was third, followed by Tequila Patron ESM’s Pipo Derani. Action Express Racing’s Dane Cameron was fifth.
Such was the topsy-turvy nature of the session that the best GT Le Mans teams ended up ahead of a number of teams that they would not normally beat. Porsche GT Team’s Patrick Pilet was fastest in GTLM with a lap of 126.573 seconds (115.134 mph). The lap, good enough for sixth overall, was a tenth of a second faster than Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin. Gianmaria Bruni in the No. 912 Porsche was third in class, but a full 1.5 seconds off of Pilet. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Richard Westbrook took the No. 67 Ford GT to fourth in class, followed by Dirk Müller in the No. 66.
In Prototype Challenge, Performance Tech Motorsports continued their dominance. James French was fastest in class with a lap of 127.523 seconds (114.275 mph), good enough for eighth overall. This lap was seven seconds faster than BAR1 Motorsports’ Don Yount.
Finally, GT Daytona saw Park Place Motorsports keep their momentum going. Patrick Lindsey was fastest with a lap of 129.567 seconds (112.473 mph), good enough for 14th overall. Lindsey’s time was two-tenths of a second faster than Change Racing’s Jeroen Mul. Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Katherine Legge was third quickest, followed by Paul Miller Racing’s Madison Snow. Turner Motorsport’s Jesse Krohn was fifth quickest.
33 of the 35 teams entered turned in laps during the session. The sole holdouts were Tequila Patron ESM’s No. 2 Nissan DPi for Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp and Stevenson Motorsports’ No. 57 Audi for Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis. Aschenbach did an out lap during the session, but the No. 2 team chose to “stay in the warm garage.” Since temperatures at Road America during the session hovered around 55 degrees, that’s fairly accurate.
IMSA WeatherTech SporsCar Championship teams have one more practice session scheduled on Friday. It will be held starting at 5:10 p.m. EDT and last for one hour.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.