The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is back at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta a month early this year for the TireRack.com Grand Prix. Through two practice sessions, things don’t look all that different from last year’s Motul Petit Le Mans. Action Express Racing’s Felipe Nasr was fastest overall with a lap at 132.478 mph.
Practice No. 1
In the morning practice session, it was Nasr’s teammate Pipo Derani that was quickest overall with a lap at 131.110 mph. This lap was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Sebastien Bourdais. Mazda Motorsports’ Harry Tincknell was third quickest, while Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ryan Briscoe was fourth. Oliver Jarvis in the second Mazda was fifth.
A notable absentee from the speed charts was the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron. They did not set a time during the 60-minute session. According to Team Penske’s Twitter feed, the car had a problem at the start of the session which required the team to spend the session fixing it.
With the withdrawal of Performance Tech Motorsports, only two LMP2 cars are on-site this weekend. Era Motorsport’s Colin Braun was seventh overall in his ORECA 07-Gibson, less than a second and a quarter slower than Derani.
GT Le Mans saw the Porsches top the chart. Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 was quickest with a lap at 117.908 mph, good for 10th overall. Bamber’s lap was only 14-thousandths of a second quicker than teammate Nick Tandy. BMW Team RLL’s John Edwards was third in the No. 24 BMW, while Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia were fourth and fifth.
GT Daytona was topped by the Lamborghini of GRT Magnus’ Andy Lally with a lap at 113.536 mph. Lally’s lap was a half a tenth of a second faster than the similar Huracan GT3 of Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers. Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen was third in his BMW, followed by Wright Motorsports’ Patrick Long. Heinricher Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Alvaro Parente was fifth in his Acura.
Practice No. 2
In the afternoon session, Nasr was able to go even quicker. Derani was quickest early, but Nasr’s quick lap of the day came with 10 minutes remaining in the session.
Nasr’s lap was a full half a second faster than Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande. Mazda Motorsports’ Tristan Nunez was third in the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P. Bourdais was fourth in the third Cadillac, while Tincknell was fifth.
Montoya and Cameron were able to get out in the second session. Cameron ended up sixth quickest. LMP2 saw PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Simon Trummer go fastest with a lap at 127.763 mph.
There were no red flags during the session, but JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Stephen Simpson did go off-course in the chicane. He was able to resume on his own with minimal interruption.
GT Le Mans saw BMW Team RLL’s Connor De Phillippi go fastest with a lap at 118.946 mph in his BMW M8 GTE. De Phillippi’s lap was nearly a half-second faster than Porsche GT Team’s Laurens Vanthoor. Garcia was third fastest with BMW’s Jesse Krohn close behind. Tandy was fifth quickest.
GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Steijn Schothorst was fastest in GT Daytona with a lap at 113.808 mph in his Lamborghini. This lap was one-eighth of a second faster than the Porsche of Wright Motorsports’ Jan Heylen. The Lexus of AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Frankie Montecalvo was third, while Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Mario Farnbacher was fourth in his Acura. Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley was fifth quickest.
Qualifying for the TireRack.com Grand Prix is due to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday evening. It will be streamed live at IMSA.com.
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.
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