Wayne Taylor Racing Leads First Practice At Sebring
The first Practice session for the 71st annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring concluded. Wayne Taylor Racing’s #10 Konica Minolta Racing Acura ARX-06 driven by Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, and Louis Delétraz finished with the fastest time of the session.
Beautiful, sunny skies and mild temperatures greeted the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship teams this morning, whereas yesterday was cloudy with intermittent rain showers. In this first competitive session of the weekend for the IMSA teams, the first half of the 90-minute session progressed without any major issues – just a few single-car spins and off-track moments as teams coped with Sebring’s signature bumps and bangs. That included the #25 BMW M Team RLL Hybrid V8 of Connor de Philippi, who spun out at turn five early on in Practice 1.
First-time WeatherTech Sportscar Championship driver, Robert Mau, lost control of the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier JS P320 into Sunset Bend. He avoided any major impact with the wall but could not get restarted, and brought out the first red flag of the weekend after 50 minutes of running.
Till Bechtolsheimer wasn’t as fortunate when he spun the #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Duquiene D08 around at turn 15 and went in tail-first into the tyre barriers. That impact knocked the rear wing off of the Duquiene, and Bechtolsheimer returned to the pits for repairs. Mau spun off for a second time, this time at Cunningham Corner (turn 10), and continued.
Then, with less than 20 minutes remaining, the #60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06 came to a stop at Le Mans Curve (turn 16), resulting in a second red flag. The car already spent over half of the session in the garage and suffered from an electrical problem with the steering wheel, but a more severe electrical problem brought Tom Blomqvist to a halt.
The session resumed with just over 10 minutes left. The #7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 had been held in its pit box for most of Practice 1 with its telemetry offline. Matt Campbell got in the car as the session resumed, but on cold tyres, he spun out through turn four and backed the rear into the tyre barriers. The green flag remained out for the session as Campbell limped back with the rear wing assembly dislodged, but quick repairs from the Porsche/Penske crew allowed Campbell to return to track before the end of the session.
However, right at the very end of Practice 1, Sheldon van der Linde locked up on the approach to Sunset Bend, and that was all it took for him to stuff the front end of the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8 into the tyre barriers. The red flag waved for a third time, and Practice 1 was over.
Even the #10 Acura had its troubles early in the session, not appearing in the first 40 minutes. But before the red flag for Blomqvist’s stopped car, Albuquerque took the top time of Practice 1 with a 1’48.303.
The newly rechristened Cadillac V-Series.Rs put in strong results as well. The #01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R (Sebastien Bourdais/Renger van der Zande/Scott Dixon) was second-fastest courtesy of a 1’48.436 from Van der Zande.
In third was the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac (Pipo Derani/Alexander Sims/Jack Aitken), its best time was 1’48.524 from Endurance Cup driver Aitken.
The two BMW M Team RLL cars ranked fourth and fifth despite Van der Linde’s crash at the end of the session. A 1’48.735 from De Philippi was an encouraging sign after their struggles in Daytona. The #6 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 (Nick Tandy/Mathieu Jaminet/Dane Cameron) finished sixth in the session with a best time of 1’49.437 from Jaminet.
While 90 minutes of practice isn’t enough to definitively answer whether the new Porsche 911 GT3 Rs can win the 12 Hours of Sebring after their feeble debut at Daytona, there was a very encouraging result that should delight the Porsche customer racing teams. The #77 Wright Motorsports Porsche (Alan Brynjolfsson/Trent Hindman/Max Root) led the GTD class and in fact, Hindman’s best time of 2’01.092 was the fastest across both GTD classes, including GTD Pro.
A significant increase in their air restrictor diameter was given to the Porsche fleet after their cars suffered from a visible loss of power around the high banks of Daytona. Brynjolfsson in particular was vocal about requesting a change from IMSA, and his VOLT Energy-sponsored car seems to have been re-energized.
Second place in GTD was the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR Acura NSX GT3 (Ashton Harrison/Kyle Marcelli/Daniel Formal) – Marcelli’s best time was just a tenth off the best time from Hindman.
Despite a spin at the Hairpin (turn seven) from Frankie Montecalvo, the #12 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3 finished third in GTD, with Parker Thompson setting the car’s best lap.
In GTD Pro, the #14 VasserSullivan Lexus (Jack Hawksworth/Ben Barnicoat/Kyle Kirkwood) led the class with a 2’01.156 from Hawksworth. That’s less than a tenth away from Hindman’s “GTD Pro-Am” leading time.
The #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 (Daniel Serra/Davide Rigon/Gabriel Casagrande) was another car that had a tough first race at Daytona but finished second in Practice 1.
And the #23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 (Ross Gunn/Alex Riberas/David Pittard) was third in GTD Pro. less than a tenth behind the #62 Ferrari.
In the pro-am prototype classes, it was the #18 Era Motorsport Oreca LMP2 07 (Dwight Merriman/Ryan Dalziel/Christian Rasmussen) that led the LMP2 class. Rasmussen’s best time was 1’50.926.
The #35 TDS Racing Oreca (François Heriau/Giedo van der Garde/Josh Pierson) went second-fastest, two-tenths adrift.
And the #04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR Oreca (George Kurtz/Ben Hanley/Nolan Siegel), the car that was narrowly beaten to the chequered flag last race at Daytona, finished third in Practice 1.
The best of the bunch in LMP3 was the #30 Jr III Motorsports Ligier JS P320 (Ari Balogh/Garret Grist/Dakota Dickerson), a car making its first appearance of the season at Sebring.
Balogh and Grist had some brief dramas at the wheel, but Dickerson’s best lap of 1’56.349 was enough to put them on top of the timing sheets.
The #74 Riley Ligier (Gar Robinson/Felipe Fraga/Josh Burdon) was just 68 milliseconds back, in second place.
Ligier locked out the top three in LMP3 with the #36 Andretti Autosport Ligier (Jarett Andretti/Gabby Chaves/Glenn van Berlo) occupying third place.
Practice 2 will commence at 3:50 PM EDT (local time), or after the chequered flag from the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, which starts at 1:20 PM.The post Wayne Taylor Racing Leads First Practice At Sebring first appeared on dailysportscar.com.