Action Express Racing’s Felipe Nasr was fastest overall in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice Thursday (Oct. 10) at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with a lap at 132.343 mph. The lap was turned in during the opening practice session of the day and was more than a second faster than the overall pole time from last year.
Practice No. 1
Nasr’s lap was nearly two-thirds of a second faster than Acura Team Penske’s Ricky Taylor. Teammate Dane Cameron was third quickest, followed by Colin Braun in the CORE autosport Nissan DPi. The Nissan is carrying the paint scheme that team owner Jon Bennett used when he first began racing in the American Le Mans Series’ PC class to commemorate his final start this weekend.
Wayne Taylor Racing’s Matthieu Vaxiviere was fifth quickest in his Cadillac. LMP2 saw PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Gabriel Aubry turn in the fastest lap at 128.367 mph. That lap was one-seventh of a second faster than Performance Tech Motorsports’ Kyle Masson.
GT Le Mans saw Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA’s Richard Westbrook top the chart with a lap at 119.047 mph. That lap was nine-hundredths of a second faster than Risi Competizione’s James Calado in the Ferrari 488 GTE. Dirk Mueller was third fastest in the second Ford GT, followed by Porsche GT Team’s Nick Tandy. BMW Team RLL’s John Edwards was fifth.
GT Daytona saw Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen fastest in his BMW M6 GT3 with a lap at 115.300 mph. The lap was nearly three-tenths of a second faster than AVS Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth. That quick lap came despite Hawksworth drawing the first red flag of the day when he stopped on-course a few minutes into the session.
Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers was third quickest in his Lamborghini, but like AVS Vasser Sullivan earlier, the Paul Miller team found trouble as well. Teammate Marco Seefried spun the No. 48 Huracan GT3 in turn 3 and damaged the Lamborghini slightly. That brought the second red flag of the session. Seefried was ok, but the team skipped Practice No. 2 in order to repair the 1st Phorm Lamborghini.
Practice No. 2
In the afternoon session, speeds were nearly identical to those turned in during Practice No. 1. Cameron was fastest in his Acura ARX-05 with a lap at 132.340 mph, a lap just two-thousandths of a second slower than Nasr in the earlier session.
Cameron’s lap was a quarter of a second faster than JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Tristan Vautier in his Cadillac. 2019 has been a tough season for JDC-Miller MotorSports and the good pace shown here was something for the team to hang their hats on. It didn’t exactly last. Later on in the session, Juan Piedrahita spun off at turn 6 at the far end of the course. He was able to continue, but not before a red flag was thrown.
Action Express Racing’s Filipe Albuquerque was third fastest in his Cadillac, followed by Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande. Taylor was fifth fastest. Aubry was fastest in LMP2 (11th overall) with a lap at 128.743 mph. The lap was 1.8 seconds faster than Performance Tech Motorsports’ Cameron Cassels.
GT Le Mans saw Risi Competizione’s Daniel Serra fastest with a lap at 119.205 mph in his Ferrari. That lap was two-tenths of a second faster than Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA’s Scott Dixon was third quickest, followed by Porsche GT Team’s Laurens Vanthoor. Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford was fifth.
GT Daytona was topped by Riley Motorsports’ Felipe Fraga with a lap at 115.345 mph in his Mercedes. Fraga’s lap was four-tenths of a second faster than Mies. Scuderia Corsa’s Toni Vilander was third in his Ferrari, followed by Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley. Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Justin Marks was fifth in his Acura.
There were no less than six on-track incidents during the 75-minute session. Four of those incidents resulted in stoppages. The Piedrahita incident was the last of the four. Prior to that, Chris Miller spun the No. 84 Cadillac and got stuck in the gravel at the chicane.
15 minutes later, Marks spun and got himself stuck in the trap as well. Motorsports Tribune’s Christopher DeHarde saw the replay and quipped, “Justin missed his Marks.”
After spins for Performance Tech Motorsports’ Andrew Evans and Turner Motorsport’s Dillon Machavern, Mazda Team Joest’s Tristan Nunez spun in the chicane and got himself stuck there. That led to the third red flag of the session.
Practice No. 3
Night practice often leads to higher speeds, but that wasn’t really the case Thursday. Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani was fastest overall with a lap at 131.654 mph, the second session in which Action Express’ No. 31 was fastest.
Derani’s lap was two-tenths of a second than Albuquerque. Taylor was third fastest, then Vautier and Mazda Team Joest’s Oliver Jarvis. Aubry was once again fastest in LMP2 with a lap at 127.551 mph. That lap was four-hundredths of a second faster than Masson.
Unlike the somewhat wild second practice session, there was only one red flag during the night session. That came when Rene Binder spun the Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. and got stuck in the gravel. The red was thrown to pull him out.
In GT Le Mans, Mueller was fastest with a lap at 119.448 mph, the fastest GTLM lap of the day. That lap was nearly a quarter of a second faster than BMW Team RLL’s Tom Blomqvist. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA’s Ryan Briscoe was third while Corvette Racing’s Mike Rockenfeller was fourth. Risi Competizione’s Alessandro Pier Guidi was fifth.
Auberlen was once again fastest in GT Daytona with a lap at 115.293 mph. That lap was six-hundredths of a second faster than Bleekemolen. Magnus Racing’s Spencer Pumpelly was third in his Lamborghini with Sellers close behind in his repaired Huracan. Mies was fifth quickest.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams have one more practice session on Friday. That session is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. EDT and will run for 60 minutes.
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.