Corvette Racing owned the fastest lap on the combined timesheet after Friday’s pair of one-hour practice sessions at Virginia International Raceway, with Antonio Garcia putting the team’s No. 3 entry on top in the afternoon.
The afternoon practice session for the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona competitors of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was run during extreme heat with the temperature hovering around 95 degrees at the 3.27-mile circuit in Alton, Virginia.
Garcia’s best lap of 1:42.623 in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R marked the fastest lap overall on the day among the 21-car field of GT machinery.
“All the work we’ve done between Road America and now definitely has helped,” said Garcia.
“The new surface here at VIR is very nice. We are already going faster here than we ever have. It’s a nice improvement from last year, even though it is super hot today. In normal conditions, I would think it would be mega. But for today, I’m very happy with the track and our Corvette.”
The weekend’s opening practice session was led by Earl Bamber after the Kiwi turned a 1:43.232 in Porsche North America’s No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. Garcia’s lap a few hours later in Practice 2 marked an improvement of six-tenths over Bamber’s leading time from the morning.
The pair of Chip Ganassi Racing-run Ford GTs completed the top three. Joey Hand was just 0.077 seconds off the pace of the No. 3 Corvette to place the No. 66 Ford GT in second while Ryan Briscoe slotted into third in the No. 67 car.
Risi Competizione’s No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE turned the fourth-fastest lap at the hands of Giancarlo Fisichella despite a crash for the car during the session. The top five was completed by John Edwards in the No. 100 BMW M6 GTLM of BMW Team RLL ahead of Olivier Gavin’s best lap at the wheel of the second Corvette.
Frederic Makowiecki’s best lap in Practice 2 was 0.01 seconds quicker than the leading effort from his co-driver Earl Bamber in the morning at 1:43.222, placing the No. 912 Porsche seventh on the timesheet at the conclusion of the afternoon outing. Rounded out by Makowiecki’s lap, the top seven cars in Practice 2 each went faster than Bamber did during the morning running.
The GTD division was paced again by the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Paul Miller Racing, this time at the hands of Bryan Sellers after Madison Snow turned the fastest lap in the class in the morning.
Sellers improved upon Snow’s best lap from the morning of 1:45.722 by more than seven-tenths to ensure the car swept Friday’s on-track activity for the class.
“We are in good shape,” Sellers said after Practice 2. “We focused on race prep in the afternoon session in the heat, and we are pretty pleased with where we are.
“We are going to go back, debrief, get our heads straight and reload for tomorrow and hopefully keep this trend going for the rest of the weekend.”
The second-fastest GTD lap in Practice 2 came from Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Dodge Viper GT3-R of Riley Motorsports, with Corey Lewis placing the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini third with a best lap of 1:45.179.
The entirety of the 12-car GTD field was covered by 1.079 seconds and was rounded out by Lone Star Racing’s No. 80 Dodge Viper after the car was fourth fastest in Practice 1 earlier in the day with a similar lap time.
Next up for the GTLM and GTD competitors in Virginia is a third hour-long practice session, set to begin at 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday.